Doctor tells nurse’s murder trial ‘at no point did I turn monitor off’

Court artists sketch of lucy letby in the dock with a  female prison guard
Court artist sketch of Lucy Letby Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

A doctor said he “definitely” would not have turned off a monitor while treating a baby allegedly attacked by nurse Lucy Letby.

Prosecutors say Letby, 32, was a “constant presence” in numerous collapses of infants at the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neo-natal unit.

She denies murdering seven babies and attempting to murder 10 others between June 2015 and June 2016.

Smith was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court on Thursday 12 October 2023. Credit: Steve Allen/PA

Letby is said to have made three attempts to murder a baby girl, referred to as Child G, in September 2015.

The final alleged bid took place shortly after a consultant paediatrician fitted an intravenous cannula to Child G with the assistance of a registrar.

Manchester Crown Court has heard Child G was behind a privacy screen and unattached to an oxygen monitor when a nurse responded to a call for help from the defendant.

The colleague, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said she saw a “concerned” Letby trying to revive the youngster who had stopped breathing.

It is alleged Letby deliberately turned off the monitor but jurors heard the nurse told police last month she believed that was not the case after she recalled a conversation she had with two doctors.

The offences took place at the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neonatal unit Credit: PA

She said consultant Dr John Gibbs and registrar Dr David Harkness apologised to her for leaving Child G behind the screen and for not turning the monitor back on after completing the procedure.

Dr Gibbs said he could not remember whether Child G’s monitoring equipment was switched off during a seventh attempt that day by medical staff to insert a cannula.

But he told the court that if the nurse said he had apologised for leaving the monitor off then “presumably that happened”.

On Thursday, Philip Astbury, prosecuting, asked Dr Harkness: “Do you have any recollection of switching the monitor or alarm on and off at any stage?”

Dr Harkness said: “Definitely would not have turned it off.

“It’s not safe. In fact I’m not sure I know how to turn off that particular monitor. At no point did I turn that monitor off.”

Lucy Letby denies murder charges Credit: Elizabeth Cook/PA

Dr Harkness said he could not recall the exchange with the nurse.

Ben Myers KC, defending, said: “You must know very well Dr Harkness that conversation took place?”

Dr Harkness said: “I can’t remember.”

Mr Myers said: “I suggest a detail like that is something you would not forget?”

The doctor replied: “I disagree.”

Letby, originally from Hereford, denies the 21 allegations she faces.

The trial was adjourned for the Christmas break until January 9.