Lucy Letby trial: Experienced nurse 'struck' by 'unusual' rash on allegedly murdered baby

An experienced neonatal nurse was "struck" by a rash that appeared on an allegedly murdered baby, telling a court: "You don't really get rashes on babies."

The girl, referred to as Child D, is said to be the third child murdered by nurse Lucy Letby in a two-week period, with another youngster suffering a life-threatening collapse during the same time.

Letby is on trial for the murder of seven babies and attempted murder of ten others at the Countess of Chester Hospital between June 2015 and June 2016.

She denies all charges.

Caroline Oakley told Manchester Crown Court she had previously never seen the "unusual" rash in any newborn infant.

Mrs Oakley was the designated nurse for Child D in the neo-natal unit on the night shift of 21 June 2015, jurors heard.

Letby, 32, was assigned to two other babies in the same intensive care room.

Mrs Oakley said Child D was "stable" from when she came on shift at 8pm and up to 1.30am on 22 June.

She said: "I remember being very happy with her."

But the child suffered two episodes where her oxygen levels dropped and she was announced dead just hours later.

The prosecution claims she was given a lethal injection of air by Letby.

'The rash struck me'

Giving evidence from behind a screen, Mrs Oakley said: "I remember being on my break, I had only been gone half an hour.

"I remember going into the nursery and saying 'what's happening?'"

Her nursing notes recorded that Child D's oxygen levels had dropped and she had lost colour.

She also recorded: "Discolouration to skin observed. Trunk, legs, arms, chin."

Mrs Oakley said: "I don't remember specifically the exact rash but I remember I had not seen it before. It was dark, it was unusual.

"The rash struck me. I had not seen that rash on a baby I had looked after."

She went on: "I struggled to describe it. I remember it as a deep red/brown but different to mottling.

"Sometimes when a baby is poorly they lose their colour and they have a mottled appearance all over, where this was just a rash specifically in those places. That is what stayed with me.

"You don't really get rashes on babies."

Witness 'can't remember specifics'

The child initially responded to treatment and the rash was resolved.

But at 3am her oxygen levels decreased again.

Mrs Oakley said her memory of the alert was "just a blur".

She said: "I remember it being very busy. I don't know exactly where I was. I could have been in the room or just out the room in the nursing station. I don't have a clear memory."

Ben Myers KC, defending Letby, asked the witness: "Round about the time this happened was there some discussion on the unit that people had seen an unusual rash on one or more other babies?"

Mrs Oakley replied: "I do remember that."

Mr Myers said: "And people comparing their recollections of what they had seen in other babies?"

Mrs Oakley said: "I can't remember the specifics but people had commented on a different rash recently."

The trial continues on Monday.