A British judge denied bail to a neonatal nurse accused of murdering eight babies and the attempted murder of 10 other infants. Lucy Letby worked in Chester in Northwest England at the Countess of Chester Hospital since graduation in 2011. She was charged with committing the offenses between 2015 and 2016.
Letby was arrested in 2018 and 2019, in relation to the deaths, but was released after both instances without further action until she was arrested on Tuesday. An investigation has been underway since 2017. Now, formal charges have been filed and the nurse has been denied bail.
Nurse Lucy Letby has been arrested and charged for the murder of eight babies and attempted murder of an additional ten. Bail has been denied.
Letby, 30, appeared in the dock for the first time on Friday. She spoke only to confirm her name and remained passive during the hearing, ABC News reports.
Her lawyer applied for bail, but judge Steven Everett rejected the application. He also banned the publication of any information that may identify witnesses and the alleged victims.
The police said that the arrest resulted from an investigation into deaths of babies at the Countess of Chester Hospital between March 2015 and July 2016. The names of the eight babies Letby is accused of killing, under the charge of “murder of a victim under 1-year-old,” were read out in court on Thursday.
Dr. Susan Gilby, chief executive of the hospital, said in a statement released on Tuesday that the development was of “serious concern.”
“We are fully supportive and respectful of the judicial processes, and as such will not be making any further comments at this stage,” Gilby explained. “Our thoughts continue to be with all the families involved.”
In late 2016, the hospital opened an investigation into the unexplained high number of deaths in its neonatal unit, and a subsequent report found that “the arrangements for investigating neonatal deaths must be strengthened.”
The report revealed that beginning in June 2015, pediatric doctors in the hospital had “become concerned about a higher-than-usual number of neonatal deaths on the unit, several of them being apparently ‘unexplained’ and ‘unexpected.’”
While the review found few conclusions, it did obtain that doctors had begun to note similarities in the deaths of the infants, and it recommended “a thorough, external independent review of each neonatal death between January 2015 and July 2016.”
By 2017, the police had become involved. In a statement released this week, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Hughes, who is in charge of the investigation, said that the arrest of Ms. Letby came after more than three years of work.
“In that time, a dedicated team of detectives” has been working on the “highly complex and very sensitive case,” he said in comments published by a local news outlet, Cheshire Live. Those officers had been “doing everything they can as quickly as they can to identify what has led to these baby deaths and collapses,” he continued, noting that Ms. Letby was assisting with the inquiries.
Police have described the case as “highly complex and very sensitive” and declined to provide further details.