A former neonatal nurse in the United Kingdom has been found guilty of murdering seven babies at Countess of Chester Hospital.
Lucy Letby was also convicted of attempting to kill six other infants between June of 2015 and June of 2016 while employed at the hospital. The 33-year-old injected air into the bloodstreams of some of her victims, force-fed others milk and gave two of the children insulin to cause their deaths.
She was given a whole-life sentence for each offense on Aug. 21 and will spend the rest of her life in prison. This is the fourth time in the UK’s history that a woman has received a whole-life sentence.
Justice James Goss, who presided over the sentencing, said the “cruelty and calculation” of Letby’s actions were “truly horrific.”
“You acted in a way that was completely contrary to the normal human instincts of nurturing and caring for babies and in gross breach of the trust that all citizens place in those who work in the medical and caring professions,” said Goss in Manchester Crown Court, per the BBC. “The babies you harmed were born prematurely and some were at risk of not surviving but in each case you deliberately harmed them, intending to kill them.”
“There was a malevolence bordering on sadism in your actions,” he continued. “During the course of this trial you have coldly denied any responsibility for your wrongdoing. … You have no remorse. There are no mitigating factors.”
Following a 2021 judicial order, none of the 17 babies involved in the case against Letby could be named by the media and the identities of the nine nurses and doctors who worked with Letby at the neonatal unit were concealed.
In addition to the murders, the prosecution contends that Letby caused profound disabilities in the surviving children who are all between the ages of six and eight. The 17 total victims include three sets of twins and one set of triplets.
“Under normal circumstances a judge cannot stop publication of the names of children who have died,” noted The Guardian. “However, the nature of the order in this case had the effect of preventing publication of the dead children’s identities, because of the sibling groups and the fact their parents would be giving evidence.”
The trial, which began in October 2022, lasted nine months.
Letby was fired from her job in June of 2016 and arrested in July of 2018. The nurse pleaded not guilty to the 22 charges brought against her, including the attempted murder of 10 children. She did not attend her sentencing hearing.
The prosecution presented multiple possible motives for Letby’s crimes, including the possibility that she was trying to gain sympathy from a doctor she was “infatuated” with, that she wanted to “play God,” and that she got a “thrill” out of seeing the grief and despair the children’s death caused their parents, reports The Independent.
The jury deliberated for 22 days before returning Letby’s guilty verdict.
An independent inquiry into the hospital and how the deaths happened is currently being conducted by British officials.