A nurse accused of murdering a baby girl during a night shift sent a colleague a WhatsApp message saying, “I’d like to keep her please”, a jury heard.
Lucy Letby, 33, is said to have injected air into the premature-born infant’s stomach via a feeding tube at the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neonatal unit.
Prosecutors say she tried to kill the baby three times before succeeding on the fourth attempt in October 2015.
Letby, originally from Hereford, is on trial accused of the murder of seven babies and the attempted murder of 10 others between June 2015 and June 2016 – charges which she denies.
She allegedly poisoned victims with insulin, injected them with air, or overfed them with milk, with many attacks taking place during night shifts, when parents were less likely to visit, jurors heard.
In WhatsApp messages read to Manchester Crown Court, Letby asked a colleague on the afternoon of 14 October if one of the alleged victims, known only as Child I, was staying on the neonatal unit.
Messaging her colleague, who cannot be named for legal reasons, Letby said: “I’d like to keep her please.”
“Yes. Staying for now. OK re keeping,” the colleague replied, but less than an hour later, they messaged to say: “I’ve had to reallocate. Sorry.”
When Letby asked if something had happened, the colleague replied: “No. Was just asked to reallocate so no one has her for more than 1 night at a time. Or 1 shift. Not just night.”
“Yeah, that’s understandable,” the defendant responded.
Prosecutors say Letby murdered Child I in the early hours of October 23, after previously trying on 30 September and 14 and 13 October.
Jurors also heard from registrar Dr Matthew Neame, who recalled seeing “unusual” skin mottling on Child I when he examined her at 10.05pm on 13 October.
He noted that Child I’s abdomen was “distended”, “mottled” and with “some tenderness”, and said her eyes were open and she “grimaced”.
“I don’t recall it clearly but it’s unusual to see mottling on the abdomen,” Dr Neame told the court.
“My impression was the increase in abdomen distension may have caused (Child I’s) lungs to be squashed… making it hard for her to breathe.”
By 7am the following morning, jurors heard how the baby had a “significant” drop in blood oxygen levels and heart rate, prompting CPR within that hour.
Thirteen minutes of resuscitation from medical staff followed before she recovered.
The court has heard evidence of numerous babies having a “mottled, discoloured” appearance before collapsing, which Dr Neame said was a sign of poor circulation.
The trial continues.