Advertisement

U.K. nurse Lucy Letby handed life sentence for murder of 7 babies

Click to play video: 'Lucy Letby does not attend sentencing hearing, prompting action by U.K. government'
Lucy Letby does not attend sentencing hearing, prompting action by U.K. government
WATCH: Lucy Letby does not attend sentencing hearing, prompting action by U.K. government – Aug 21, 2023

NOTE: The following article contains content that some might find disturbing. Please read at your own discretion.

British former neonatal nurse Lucy Letby was sentenced to a lifetime of imprisonment on Monday for the murder of seven infants and the attempted murders of six other babies at a hospital in northern England.

Judge James Goss handed Letby, 33, the most severe sentence possible under British law, a whole-life order, which ensures Letby will remain in prison until her death. She will not be given the possibility of parole.

Letby is the fourth-ever woman to be given this sentence in the U.K., according to the BBC.

Before her sentencing, Goss, of the Manchester Crown Court, said Letby orchestrated a “cruel, calculated and cynical campaign of child murder involving the smallest and most vulnerable of children.”

Story continues below advertisement

He told the court that Letby, who was found guilty on Friday, had “no remorse” and committed her crimes with a “deep malevolence bordering on sadism.”

“Loving parents have been robbed of their cherished children and others have to live with the physical and mental consequences of your actions. Siblings have been deprived of brothers and sisters,” the judge said. “You have caused deep psychological trauma, brought enduring grief and feelings of guilt, caused strains in relationships and disruption to the lives of all the families of all your victims.”

Letby targeted her victims while she was a neonatal nurse at Countess of Chester Hospital from June 2015 to June 2016. She and her lawyers maintain her innocence.

Letby did not attend her own sentencing. Though it is legal to not appear, the decision has outraged many legal officials and the British public. Due to her absence, Letby did not hear the victims’ families speak about the personal impact of her crimes in court Monday. The judge ordered that a copy of the victims’ sentencing remarks be sent to Letby.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the government plans to change the law so that all convicted persons would be required to attend their sentencing.

Click to play video: 'UK baby killer nurse Lucy Letby sentenced to life in prison'
UK baby killer nurse Lucy Letby sentenced to life in prison

“It’s cowardly that people who commit such horrendous crimes do not face their victims and hear first-hand the impact that their crimes have had on them and their families and loved ones,” Sunak said.

Story continues below advertisement

U.K. Justice Secretary Alex Chalk called Letby a “coward” for not attending the sentencing.

“Lucy Letby is not just a murderer but a coward, whose failure to face her victims’ families – refusing to hear their impact statements and society’s condemnation – is the final insult,” Chalk wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “We are looking to change the law so offenders can be compelled to attend sentencing hearings.”

Throughout the trial, jurors heard testimony about how Letby waited until infants were left alone in hospital before attacking. Letby killed seven infants by injecting air into their stomachs and bloodstreams. Letby also attempted murder by lacing feeding bags with insulin, through overfeeding and through physical assault.

Story continues below advertisement

Letby has denied ever causing deliberate harm to any babies in the hospital. She tried to convince her medical colleagues and parents of the victims that the infants died of natural causes.

Much of the court case revolved around handwritten notes discovered in Letby’s home that seemingly admitted guilt over the murders.

“I am evil I did this,” read one note.

“I don’t deserve to live. I killed them on purpose because I’m not good enough to care for them,” read another.

Prosecutors described Letby as a “constant malevolent presence” during her year-long employment in the neonatal unit. Several doctors testified during the trial that they had raised concerns about Letby to their superiors as early as October 2015, but were dismissed. They said some infants may have been saved, had their reports been taken seriously.

Letby was finally removed from front-line duties in late June of 2016. She was arrested at her home in July 2018.

An independent inquiry will be conducted into what happened at the hospital and how staff and management responded to the spike in deaths.

— with files from The Associated Press

Sponsored content

AdChoices