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Lucy Letby attempted to murder premature baby born at just 24 weeks, jury told

Child serial killer Lucy Letby attempted to murder a baby who was born at only 24-weeks, jurors have been told.

Letby, 34, is facing a retrial at Manchester Crown Court on a single count of attempted murder relating to an incident at the Countess of Chester Hospital where she worked as a neonatal nurse until June 2016.

Jurors failed to reach a verdict on the charge at Letby’s first trial which concluded last year.

A new jury has been told Letby was found guilty of murdering seven babies and attempting to murder a further six.

None of the children or their families can be named due to strict reporting restrictions.

The jury were told they are being asked to consider whether Letby attempted to murder Baby K, a girl who was born at the Countess of Chester in February 2016 at only 24-weeks gestation.

Opening the prosecution, barrister Nick Johnson KC told jurors Letby’s previous convictions have “an importance” because “it gives you significant evidence as to what her intention was at the time we say, we allege, she did, or tried to do something to [Baby K].”

Mr Johnson added that Letby’s “status as a multiple murderer and attempted murderer is an important piece of evidence that you can, if you wish, take into account.”

As the trial began, jurors were given iPads to help them navigate the evidence and shown a walk-through video of the neonatal unit where Letby worked at the time of the alleged offence.

The Countess of Chester Hospital after nurse Lucy Letby, 33, has been found guilty at Manchester Crown Court of the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of six others at the hospital. Letby was accused of the murder of seven babies and the attempted murder of another ten, between June 2015 and June 2016 while working on the neonatal unit of the hospital. Picture date: Friday August 18, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story COURTS Letby. Photo credit should read: Jacob King/PA Wire
The Countess of Chester Hospital (Photo: Jacob King/PA Wire)

They were also shown an indictment of the alleged offence on 17 February 2016 outlining the timeline of Letby’s previous offending.

“What you will hear about in due course is that by this stage Lucy Letby had murdered five children,” Mr Johnson said.

“She had murdered Child A on 8 June 2015, Child C on 14 June, Child D on 22 June, Child E on 4 August and Child I on 23 October.

“She has attempted to murder Child B on 9-10 June, he was the twin of Child A.

“She had attempted to murder Child F, who was the twin of Child E.

“She had attempted twice to murder a child called Child G on 7 and 21 September.”

At the time of Baby K’s birth, the Countess of Chester was a ‘level 2’ unit, meaning it was only supposed to look after babies born at 27 weeks or older, the court heard.

Children born any earlier were usually taken to a “level 3” maternity unit.

But after Baby K’s mother arrived at hospital already in preterm labour, “events overtook the best efforts of medics”, Mr Johnson told the jury, and it was felt there was more risk in transferring her elsewhere.

The decision that she should stay at Chester was taken at 2.31pm on 15 February and Baby K’s mother was given a dose of steroids to help the premature baby breathe, the court heard.

Baby K did “remarkably well for a child of such prematurity” when she as born in the early hours of 17 February, 2016, Mr Johnson told jurors.

She weighed just 692g but within 10 minutes of being delivered she scored 9 out of 10 on an “Apgar” score which measures the vital signs of an infant, the court heard.

Letby, of Hereford, appeared in the dock for proceedings which are expected to last up to four weeks. She denies that she attempted to murder Baby K.

The trial continues.

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