Nurse Lucy Letby accused of baby murders said ‘it’s always me when it happens’, court told
A nurse accused of multiple baby murders was seen crying as she said: “It’s always me when it happens.”
Lucy Letby, 33, made the remark following a series of collapses of infants at the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neonatal unit.
GP Lucy Beebe told police she saw a tearful Letby in conversation with a colleague in one of the care rooms at the unit, Manchester Crown Court heard.
Dr Beebe said: "I remember Lucy crying with another nurse and it was very much of the gist of ‘it’s always me when it happens, my babies, it’s always happening to me a lot’."
Prosecutor Philip Astbury asked: “Who was saying that?
Dr Beebe replied: “Lucy.”
Mr Astbury said: “You can’t remember precisely when that was?”
“No,” said the witness.
Dr Beebe said she cared for a premature-born girl, Child I, during her spell as a GP trainee doctor at the Countess of Chester.
The Crown say neonatal nurse Letby murdered Child I in the early hours of 23 October 2015.
It was said to be her fourth attempt to deliberately harm the baby after earlier bids on 30 September, 13 and 14 October.
Dr Beebe said: “I recall (Child I) because it was unusual that she was seemingly well and then became unwell.
“In my memory I felt like she was shipped out to a tertiary centre, made a rapid recovery and then was brought back very quickly.
“It certainly stuck in my memory because it had never happened to a baby I had been involved in the care of before or since, at any of the neo-natal units I worked at.”
Asked about her reaction to Child I’s death, she replied: “Shock and frustration at the time because on reflection I felt there was something else going on with (Child I) that we were not getting to the bottom of.
“It was sad because I remember the family and the whole situation was just very sad and frustrating.”
Dr Beebe agreed with Ben Myers KC, defending, and also told police, that Letby’s tearful exchange “seemed a pretty normal reaction” given the upsetting events at the hospital.
Nurse Ashleigh Hudson told jurors the lights in a nursery were switched off, rather than dimmed, when she discovered Child I “pale and floppy” in her cot in the early hours of October 13.
Miss Hudson was Child I’s carer on the night-shift but she said she asked Letby or the nursing shift leader to keep an eye on the youngster as she was required to help a colleague with a routine procedure elsewhere.
She said that procedure took about 15 minutes and she then walked to a store room to collect Child I’s milk.
On her return to nursery room 2 she started preparing the milk for a feed on a counter which faced the lit corridor, she said.
She said: “I can remember at one point in time Lucy was standing in the doorway. She was leaning up against the frame. She pointed out from where she was that she thought (Child I) looked pale.”
Letby was “about 5ft/6ft” from the cot, she said, but she could not see Child I’s face as she looked over her shoulder, as the top half of the cot was obscured by a canopy.
Fellow junior prosecutor Simon Driver asked: “Was there anything about the circumstances, the layout or the lighting within that room, which afforded Lucy Letby a better view than the one you had?”
“No,” replied Miss Hudson.
In August 2020, the court heard, Miss Hudson was taken to the unit by police officers to help her recollection of the position of the cot and the lighting at the time.
Mr Myers asked: “It’s impossible, isn’t it, to recall precisely how the lighting was five years previously?”
Miss Hudson said: “Not precisely. It is an image that has been imprinted on my brain for quite some time. It’s quite vivid.”
Mr Myers said: “Is it possible that the nursery light may have been low on the dimmer rather than off?”
Miss Hudson said: “No, it was off.”
The witness said she had stood in that doorway at night and had looked at a cot in that position but it had not provided her a clear vantage point.
Miss Hudson said she approached Child I’s cot side, pushed back the canopy and peeled off her blankets.
Wiping away tears, she told the court: “That’s when I noticed she was in quite poor condition.
“She was incredibly pale in colour, almost white. She didn’t respond to me. She was very still.
“She was floppy and she was making gasping breathing movements – a handful of times within a minute.”
Mr Driver asked: “What was your first thought when you saw (Child I) at close quarters in that cot?”
Miss Hudson replied: “My first thought, and worry, was that she had deteriorated so rapidly that it was too late. The change in her had been remarkable.”
She said she gave Child I ventilation breaths via a face mask before Letby took over with the airway while she began chest compressions.
Child I eventually recovered after nurses and doctors fought to resuscitate her for more than 20 minutes, the court heard.
Miss Hudson said Child I was in “good clinical condition” at the start of the shift.
Letby, originally from Hereford, denies murdering seven babies and attempting to murder 10 others between June 2015 and June 2016.
The trial was adjourned until next Wednesday.