Lucy Letby: Accused nurse told to leave alone parents of dying newborn baby, court told

Lucy Letby: Accused nurse told to leave alone parents of dying newborn baby, court told

A nurse accused of multiple baby murders was told to leave alone the parents of a dying newborn boy, a court has heard.

Lucy Letby is accused of murdering the infant just days after he was born prematurely, weighing 800 grams, at the Countess of Chester Hospital, on June 10 2015.

Child C is the second of seven babies she is alleged to have murdered at the hospital’s neo-natal unit.

Jurors at Manchester Crown Court have been told that Letby, 32, was designated the care of another baby boy on the night shift of June 13, who was in a room separate from Child C.

The Crown say Letby was present in intensive care room one when Child C suddenly collapsed at about 11.15pm, despite, they say, her having no clear reason to be there.

She is said to have fatally inserted air into his stomach via a nasogastric tube.

Giving evidence on Monday, the nursing shift leader on duty that night told the court she had no concerns over Child C at the start of the shift, and his clinical observations were stable.

The nurse, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said she was more worried about the baby that Letby was tasked to care for in room three, and that in her opinion he was the “most poorly baby” on the unit.

However, Lucy went into the family room a few times and I asked her to come out and leave that family with Melanie Taylor

Nursing shift leader

She said: “I was concerned he had some signs of respiratory distress.

“I asked Lucy to increase his observations from two-hourly to one-hourly and asked Lucy to call the registrar on call to come and review him immediately.”

Simon Driver, prosecuting, asked: “Were those instructions observed?”

The witness, giving evidence from behind a screen, replied: “I can’t remember whether the observations were increased, but the registrar did come.”

Mr Driver said: “At the first time of asking?”

The nurse said: “I don’t remember.”

The court heard Child C did not respond to resuscitation attempts and there came a time when the baby and his parents and grandparents were taken to a private family room.

The witness said she assigned another nurse on duty, Melanie Taylor, to offer Child C’s parents a memory box in which hand and footprints would be collected.

The witness said: “I asked Lucy to focus on (her designated baby) because I was still concerned about him.

“However, Lucy went into the family room a few times and I asked her to come out and leave that family with Melanie Taylor.”

Mr Driver asked: “Was it any part of the responsibilities for her to go into that family room at this time?”

The witness replied: “Not that I can remember.”

Mr Driver went on: “You instructed her to return her attention to (her designated baby) once or more than once?”

The witness said: “More than once.”

Mr Driver asked: “Do you recall how many times?”

“No,” said the witness.

In his opening speech, Ben Myers KC, defending, said Child C was vulnerable, especially to infection, and should have been at a specialist children’s hospital.

He asked the witness: “Do you agree he (Child C) was a baby in a potentially fragile condition?”

“Yes,” said the witness.

Mr Myers said: “Do you agree, given his size and prematurity and his conditions, there was a risk that he could die?”

“Yes,” the witness said.

Jurors have previously seen messages sent by Letby during the night shift in which she said being in room three was “eating me up”.

She added that she felt she wanted to return to room one where a baby boy – her alleged first victim – had died, to “get the image out of my head”.

The witness agreed with Mr Myers that she had told police that some nurses preferred to work in intensive care room one.

Mr Myers asked her: “That’s a fact of professional life, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” said the witness.

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 trial continues on Tuesday.