Accused nurse ‘stood by baby’s incubator after heart rate and oxygen alert’

A nurse has described seeing Lucy Letby standing by the incubator of a premature baby after its heart rate and oxygen levels dropped.

The baby, known as Child C, died on June 14 2015 and is alleged to have been the second baby murdered by Letby at the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neonatal unit.

On Friday, Manchester Crown Court heard from Letby’s colleague Sophie Ellis, who had been a newly-qualified nurse at the time and was caring for Child C on the night shift before the baby died.

Giving evidence from behind a screen, Ms Ellis said Child C, who weighed 800 grams at birth, was fed for the first time at 11pm on June 13, and she left the room briefly to go to the nurse’s station, but was then alerted by an alarm from the baby’s monitor.

When asked what she saw when she returned to the room, she said: “I’d seen Lucy standing by the incubator.”

She said Letby, 32, told her the baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels had dropped but she could not recall what she was doing at the time.

Ms Ellis said Child C’s condition resolved by itself and she sat at the computer in the room, but the infant’s heart rate and oxygen levels then dropped again.

The witness said: “Lucy was stood at the incubator. I would have been looking from the computer, it was on the right-hand side.”

Ms Ellis said she put out a crash call for a medical team to attend and then did chest compressions on Child C until becoming upset when its mother came into the room.

She said: “It was completely overwhelming. It was very sudden, very unexpected. I did get a little bit upset.

“Lucy was stood opposite me and she said: ‘Do you want me to take over?’ And I said yes.”

Ben Myers KC, defending, suggested Letby was not in the room at the time when Child C’s condition had deteriorated and came in after resuscitation started.

Ms Ellis said: “I don’t agree with that.”

Another nurse, Melanie Taylor, told the court she remembered going to Child C’s incubator after he deteriorated.

She said: “When I first approached the incubator Lucy was already there and I don’t know if anybody else was present at that time or not.”

Mr Myers said in a statement given to police in 2018 Ms Taylor did not mention Letby, but remembered being called over to the incubator by Ms Ellis.

He said: “You put Lucy Letby right in the centre of this in evidence to the jury in a way you didn’t when you made a statement to police.”

Ms Taylor replied: “I’m just saying what I remembered.”

Lucy Letby court case
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Lucy Letby (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

The court has heard Letby was designated to look after a baby in a different room at the time of Child C’s collapse.

Child C died just before 6am on June 14 2015, the court has heard.

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.

The case will continue on Monday.