Lucy Letby, a nurse who became the most prolific child serial killer in modern British history, received a life sentence without the possibility of parole on Monday.
This marked the conclusion of a lengthy case that shocked Britain and raised concerns about the organizational culture that enabled her to avoid detection for an extended period.
Judge James Goss imposed a “whole life order” on Ms. Letby, ensuring she would spend her remaining years in prison. This sentence, reserved for the gravest offences in the country, has been given to only four women in history.
In the courtroom, Mr Goss emphasised that Ms Letby convicted the previous week of murdering seven newborns and attempting to kill six others, acted in stark contrast to the instincts of caring for infants. The judge noted that her actions inflicted acute suffering on most of her victims.
The murders and attempted murders occurred between June 2015 and June 2016 when Letby worked as a nurse in the neonatal ward of the Countess of Chester Hospital in northwestern England. Her responsibility was to care for premature and vulnerable babies.
Despite her conviction, she chose not to appear during her sentencing.
Nevertheless, poignant testimonies from bereaved parents shed light on the pain caused by her actions.
A mother whose baby was killed by Ms Letby expressed her anguish in court.
“There is no sentence that will ever compare to the excruciating agony that we have suffered as a consequence of your actions,” the BBC quoted the mother to have said.
Another parent described how their sentiment towards their deceased child’s keepsakes had changed due to Ms Letby’s involvement in their creation.
The father of twins, two of whom Ms Letby was found guilty of killing, shared in a prerecorded video how their family struggled to cope with the loss.
Philip Astbury, the prosecutor, conveyed a statement from the parents of twins who were assaulted in 2015. While one twin survived, the other tragically did not.
Ms Letby was convicted of their respective murder and attempted murder. The statement rebuked Ms Letby’s entitlement to control their children’s lives and expressed the hope that she would live a life filled with suffering.
Although some parents addressed the court through their attorneys, others spoke directly to the courtroom, their emotions evident. One mother criticised Ms Letby’s absence from court as a demonstration of her disrespect for both the court and the families affected.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, addressing the case, expressed shock at the distressing details. He criticised the lack of accountability shown by perpetrators of heinous crimes and mentioned potential legal changes to ensure convicted criminals attend their sentencing.
Throughout the 10-month trial at Manchester Crown Court, jurors heard that Ms Letby had harmed infants by overfeeding them, injecting them with harmful substances, and inflicting trauma. Throughout the proceedings, the 33-year-old nurse maintained her innocence despite facing 22 charges related to the deaths and harm of babies. Alongside murder convictions, Ms Letby was found guilty of seven counts of attempted murder involving six newborns, indicating that she had tried to kill one baby twice.
The jury did not reach verdicts on six counts of attempted murder, and Ms Letby was acquitted of two counts of attempted murder.
Prosecutors relied on medical records, texts, social media messages, staffing schedules, handwritten notes, and diaries to secure Ms Letby’s conviction.
The government has ordered an independent inquiry to investigate how she evaded detection for years, despite the British news media’s repeated warnings about her conduct.