How Lucy Letby's murder trial became one of the longest in UK history

Child serial killer Lucy Letby is launching her latest bid to challenge her convictions for the murder and attempted murder of babies at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

Lucy Letby is bidding to appeal against her convictions. (PA)
Lucy Letby is bidding to appeal against her convictions. (PA)

Lucy Letby is applying for permission to appeal against her convictions for the murder and attempted murder of babies in her care.

The child serial killer was sentenced to 14 whole life terms in prison last August after she was convicted of the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of six others, with two attempts on one of her victims.

Her lawyers will ask a panel of three judges at the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal against all of her convictions - the hearing is expected to finish this week.

Letby, 34, from Hereford, had an initial application refused by a judge without a hearing in January.

The Court of Appeal heard on Monday that Letby is making a bid to challenge her conviction on four points.

The details of her bid cannot currently be reported for legal reasons, but at the outset of the hearing on Monday, one of the three judges, Dame Victoria Sharp, said it could be reported that Letby is attempting to challenge her convictions on four grounds, which involve arguments that the judge at her trial wrongly refused legal applications made during her trial.

Should the three judges again decline her permission, it will mark the end of the appeal process for Letby.

The murders and attempted murders took place at the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neonatal unit, where Letby worked as a nurse, between June 2015 and June 2016.

The jury in Letby’s trial at Manchester Crown Court was unable to reach verdicts on six counts of attempted murder in relation to five children.

An image released on Friday of Lucy Letby's first arrest in 2018. (PA)
Lucy Letby pictured during her first arrest in 2018. (PA)

She will face a retrial at the same court in June on a single count that she attempted to murder a baby girl, known as Child K, in February 2016.

Yahoo News UK looks at how Letby's trial was one of the longest murder trials in UK history.

'Gruelling' evidence

The jury of eight women and four men in Lucy Letby's murder trial sat for 145 days of evidence over a period of 10 months.

During that time, they had to listen to evidence from 246 witnesses, including parents, doctors, nurses, experts and Letby herself, who was in the witness box for 14 days.

Several witnesses gave evidence from outside the UK, with some speaking via video link from Switzerland and Australia.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 21: A large media presence reports on the sentencing of former nurse Lucy Letby outside Manchester Crown Court on August 21, 2023 in Manchester, England. Lucy Letby, a former nurse at Countess of Cheshire Hospital, was convicted on Friday of murdering seven babies, and attempting to murder six more, in the hospital's neonatal ward between 2015 and 2016. She was found not guilty of two counts of attempted murder, while the jury did not reach verdicts on six further counts of attempted murder.  (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Media outside Manchester Crown Court in August 2023 awaiting the sentencing of Lucy Letby. (Getty Images)

Because there was so much evidence, jurors were each given iPads alongside a small paper bundle so they could access information quickly.

These included thousands of pages of medical records and nursing notes for each of the babies involved.

The evidence also featured a number of handwritten notes by Letby which helped lead to her conviction.

The jurors, some of whom were in tears at the end of the trial, spent so long in court that following the final verdicts, judge Mr Justice Goss excused each member from any further jury service for the rest of their lives.

A police van believed to be carrying Lucy Letby leaving Manchester Crown Court on Friday. (PA)
A police van believed to be carrying Lucy Letby leaving Manchester Crown Court during her trial. (PA)

Detective Superintendent Paul Hughes, the senior investigating officer for Cheshire Police, paid tribute to the jury.

"They’ve given everything," he said. "They listened attentively, they were focused and stayed with it. I’m really proud of them for what they’ve done for the parents in helping them seek justice."

After the convictions, families of the victims said in a joint statement they will “forever be grateful” to jurors who had to sit through 145 days of “gruelling” evidence in court.

At the height of the investigation into Letby, 70 officers from Cheshire Police were working on the overall probe - having started with a team of eight.

Letby was initially arrested in July 2018, before being re-arrested in June 2019 and arrested again in November 2020, when she was charged.

Members of the media outside the Countess of Chester Hospital after nurse Lucy Letby, 33, was found guilty at Manchester Crown Court of the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of six others at the hospital August 18, 2023 Jacob King/Pool via REUTERS
The Countess of Chester Hospital where Lucy Letby carried out her crimes. (Reuters)

Hughes said: “This has been a highly complex and extremely sensitive investigation over the past six years. We had to go right back to the start, keeping an open mind and being careful not to draw any conclusions.

“The last thing we expected to find was a suspect responsible for these deaths and non-fatal collapses. It was a long, drawn-out process but no stone was left unturned. We had to do it right, not rush it.

“This has been an investigation like no other - in scope, complexity and magnitude.”

Letby's trial was not the longest in UK legal history.

In November 1990, three men were wrongfully convicted of the murder of Lynette White in Cardiff - their trial at Swansea Crown Court lasted 197 days.

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