Accused nurse ‘hovering around’ evening before baby’s death, mother tells court

The mother of a baby allegedly murdered by Lucy Letby has described the nurse “hovering around” them the evening before her death.

The baby, referred to as child D, died on June 22 2015 at the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neonatal unit.

The prosecution in the trial of Letby, 32, allege child D was the third child murdered by the nurse in a two-week period, with another baby suffering a life-threatening collapse during that time.

The Countess of Chester Hospital
Child D died in June 2015 at the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neonatal unit (Peter Byrne/PA)

Giving evidence at Manchester Crown Court on Thursday, child D’s mother described seeing Letby in the neonatal unit the evening before her daughter’s death.

She told the court: “As we got in the room she was sort of hovering around (child D) but not doing much.

“She had a clipboard or something to take notes on and she sort of was looking at the machine but I didn’t really clearly understand what she was doing.

“I asked if everything was OK and she said ‘yes, she’s fine’.

“That was the first time in 24 hours I could see (child D).

“She could have just left us to it and she just stuck around.

“She was just watching, looking over us. I asked (my husband) ‘can you tell her to go away and just give us some privacy?'”

Manchester Crown Court
Child D’s mother was giving evidence at Manchester Crown Court (Steve Allen/PA)

Ben Myers KC, defending, asked if it was possible the nurse she had seen was someone other than Letby.

The mother replied: “I don’t think so.”

The court heard in the early hours of the following morning, the parents – staying in another part of the hospital – were woken by a nurse who was “in a panic” and told them their baby was unwell.

The mother said she and her husband rushed down to the unit and saw a doctor resuscitating child D, with Letby holding a phone to his ear.

The doctor was then told to stop resuscitation and “let her go” by a colleague, she said.

The court heard the mother’s waters had broken on June 18 2015 but she was not given a Caesarean section until two days later, on June 20, after attempts to induce labour.

The mother said she had been concerned about getting an infection but was not given antibiotics.

When child D was delivered she looked “lifeless” and following the operation the mother was worried because the baby seemed to be limp, struggling to breathe and not an even colour, she said.

She told the court: “There was a split second when she sort of opened her eyes a little bit and looked at me. That’s the one picture I have got of her, and then no response.”

Court artist sketch of Lucy Letby appearing in the dock at Manchester Crown Court
The prosecution allege child D was the third child murdered by Letby in a two-week period (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

She said medical staff initially told her not to worry and that child D was OK but when she appealed to have her checked again, the baby was taken to intensive care on the neonatal unit.

She said doctors told her child D was “up and down” but were happy with her progress once she was treated on the unit.

The day before child D died, a doctor said she was doing well and promised her mother she would be able to give her baby a “cuddle” and feed her the following day, she said.

In a statement, child D’s father said she was on the neonatal ward for 36 hours and had equipment to help her breathe.

He said: “I was never given the impression that (child D’s) condition was life-threatening and it didn’t even cross my mind that she was in danger of dying.

“When she died, we just were not prepared for it.”

Letby, originally from Hereford, denies the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of 10 others at the Countess of Chester Hospital between June 2015 and June 2016.

A court order prohibits reporting of the identities of surviving and dead children allegedly attacked by Letby, and also prohibits identifying parents or witnesses connected with the children.