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 had recovered several handwritten documents from her home after her arrest in July 2018. On one note shown to the jury, headlined “Not good enough,” she wrote: “I will never have children or marry. I will never know what it’s like to have a family” 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 notes that included “many protestations of innocence” when they arrested Letby at home in Chester on 3 July 2018.
On another handwritten note shown to the jury, she wrote: “I don’t deserve to live. I killed them on purpose because I’m not good enough to care for them.”
She also wrote on the note: “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 “No Hope” and “Panic Fear” and then circled in capital letters “HATE”.
Letby’s barrister, Benjamin Myers KC, described the notes as the “anguished outpouring of a young woman in fear and despair when she realises the enormity of what is being said about her and this is her way of expressing it in the moment to herself”.
He added: “This note reflects the anguished state of mind Miss Letby found herself in and what she felt when she was learned of how she was accused of killing children she had done her best to care for. What you see there is anguish not guilt.”
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 had tried to kill a three-day-old boy 24 hours after murdering two brothers from a set of triplets.
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.
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.
Letby was moved from the neonatal ward in June 2016, 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 would not come into contact with children, Johnson said.
Myers, defending, said there was no evidence of Letby hurting the babies and that the prosecution case was “driven by the assumption that someone was doing deliberate harm … combined with the coincidence on certain occasions of Miss Letby’s presence”.
He added: “What it isn’t driven by is evidence of Miss Letby actually doing what is alleged against her.” The barrister told jurors it would be “staggeringly unfair” to convict a person without a word of evidence.
Myers said: “There is a real danger that people will simply accept the prosecution theory of guilt and that’s all we have so far, ladies and gentlemen, a theory of guilt based firmly on coincidence – if anything can be based firmly on coincidence.”
The defence suggested the care of some of the babies was “suboptimal, repeatedly” and that the deaths could in part be explained by failings of the hospital.
Myers said there had been a “massive failure of care in a busy hospital neonatal unit – far too great to blame on one person”. He said the unit was “well out of its depth” looking after some of the newborns who should have been under specialist care at other hospitals.
The case continues.