‘I didn’t dislodge breathing tube of baby girl,’ says Lucy Letby

Letby was interviewed by detectives after she was arrested at her home in Blacon, Chester, in July 2018
Letby was interviewed by detectives after she was arrested at her home in Blacon, Chester, in July 2018 - Cheshire Constabulary/PA

Lucy Letby told police she did not deliberately dislodge the breathing tube of a baby girl, a court has heard.

The 34-year-old is on trial accused of attempting to murder the infant, known as Baby K, while she worked a night shift at the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neonatal unit in February 2016.

Letby was convicted last August of the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of six others at the hospital between June 2015 and June 2016.

The jury were unable to reach a verdict on the single allegation of attempted murder involving Baby K.

The prosecution say that Dr Ravi Jayaram, a consultant paediatrician, caught the defendant “virtually red-handed” as he entered the unit’s intensive care room and saw Letby standing next to Baby K’s incubator and “doing nothing”.

Letby was interviewed by detectives after she was arrested at her home in Blacon, Chester, in July 2018 and then subsequent arrests at her family home in Hereford in June 2019 and November 2020, the court heard.

Excerpts of video interviews

On Friday, the jury at Manchester Crown Court were shown excerpts of the video interviews with Letby.

In June 2019, Detective Sergeant Danielle Stonier, of Cheshire Constabulary, questioned Letby, who said she had no memory of the baby’s collapse.

She also denied turning off an alarm that Dr Jayaram claims should have been going off, but wasn’t.

The detective then asked: “Dr Jayaram says (Baby K’s) endotracheal (ET) tube was dislodged, there was no fault on the ventilator and the tube was replaced. He confirms that (Baby K) was not active and had been fine earlier on but then suffered an event when you were the only one in the room, explain that to me Lucy.”

Letby said: “I didn’t dislodge the tube.”

The detective then asked her what would have happened if Dr Jayaram hadn’t walked in, as he claimed he did.

Letby replied: “I would have summoned help. If I’d noticed her observations were declining or the tube had slipped.”

Giving evidence earlier in the trial, Dr Jayaram said that if he “had more courage” he would have called police immediately after the alleged attack.

Dr Jayaram was asked repeatedly by Ben Myers KC, defending, why, if he thought Letby had just tried to murder a child, he had not immediately called 999.

He said he was worried that if he called the police they would contact the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Hospital bosses

He claimed that both he and Dr Stephen Brearey, who had already raised concerns about Letby by this point, were worried hospital bosses would tell police they were just “complaining paediatricians”.

Joanne Williams, another nurse who had been looking after Baby K prior to the collapse, previously told the court she remembered alarms going off.

She said her recollection was that Dr Jayaram had asked her who had been in the room at the time of the collapse.

She also said it was possible for “certain babies” to dislodge breathing tubes themselves.

Baby K was transferred to Arrowe Park, a specialist hospital, later on Feb 17 because of her extreme prematurity.

She died there three days later although the prosecution does not allege Letby caused her death.

The cause of death was given as “extreme prematurity” combined with severe respiratory distress however no post-mortem was carried out.

Letby, of Hereford, denies a single count of attempted murder. The defence case starts on Monday.