A nurse accused of murdering seven babies in a hospital neonatal unit wrote: “I killed them on purpose because I’m not good enough to care for them,” a court has heard.
The trial of Lucy Letby was told on Thursday that police recovered several handwritten documents from her home after her arrest in July 2018.
On one note shown to the jury she wrote: “I will never have children or marry” and “there are no words” and “I can’t breathe.”
On another, she wrote “I am a horrible evil person” and on another in capital letters: “I AM EVIL I DID THIS,” the jury was told.
The 32-year-old is accused of murdering seven newborns – including two brothers from a set of triplets – over the course of a year at the Countess of Chester hospital.
She allegedly tried to kill 10 others by injecting them with air, milk or insulin between June 2015 and June 2016. Letby denies all 22 charges.
Letby was eventually removed from the neonatal ward in June 2016 – four months after a senior doctor had started to connect her to unexplained deaths and collapses, the trial has heard.
In that four-month period she is alleged to have murdered two brothers from a set of triplets and to have attempted to kill five other babies.
Day four of the trial at Manchester crown court heard how police recovered “interesting items” when they arrested Letby at home in Chester on 3 July 2018.
Officers found Post-it notes that included “many protestations of innocence,” the jury was told, with closely written words that mentioned the names of her colleagues.
On one handwritten note described to the jury, she wrote: “I don’t deserve to live. I killed them on purpose because I’m not good enough.”
She also wrote on the note, which was displayed on a screen in court: “There are no words,” “I can’t breathe,” “kill myself,” “I haven’t done anything wrong,” “how can I get through it?” and “I am an awful person”. She had also written “Hope Panic Fear” and then circled in capital letters “HATE”.
Letby appeared passive as the notes were read to the jury of eight women and four men. Nick Johnson KC, prosecuting, told them: “That in a nutshell is your task in this case, you have to decide on the evidence whether she did these things, or any of them.”
Johnson said police officers found medical paperwork relating to many of the babies she is alleged to have attacked.
On one note, she allegedly wrote: “Why/how has this happened – what process has led to this current situation. What allegations have been made and by who? Do they have written evidence to support their comments?”
The jury was told that Letby wrote on another: “I haven’t done anything wrong and they have no evidence so why have I had to hide away?”
The court also heard on Thursday that Letby tried to kill a three-day-old boy 24 hours after murdering two brothers from a set of triplets.
An independent review of the deaths of the brothers, who can only be named as Child O and Child P, concluded that they were killed on successive days in June 2016 by gas pumped into their stomachs, jurors were told.
After the collapse of Child P, she allegedly told one doctor: “He’s not leaving here alive, is he?” This “surprised” the doctor, who had been hopeful the baby would recover, the court heard, but the child was pronounced dead less than an hour later, at three days old.
Johnson said: “As with all these cases, it is the coincidence of problems happening when Lucy Letby was about and the coincidence of the same problems happening with different babies at different times which is so telling and indicates that it was her malign hand at work.”
After their deaths, Letby allegedly spent time with their parents and took a photograph of the dead brothers together in a cot, the court heard.
The next day, it is alleged, she attempted to kill a three-day-old boy by the same method of injecting air.
He was the 17th newborn she is alleged to have murdered or tried to murder over the previous year.
Letby was moved from the neonatal ward the following week, the court heard, after consultants suspected “that the deaths and life-threatening collapses of these 17 children were not medically explicable” and were the result of “the actions of Lucy Letby”.
She was moved to clerical duties where she wouldn’t come into contact with children, Johnson said. The police were then contacted and began a lengthy investigation that resulted in Letby’s arrest two years later, on 3 July 2018.
The case continues.
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