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

Watch: Parents of Lucy Letby's victims speak out as she is found guilty of murdering seven babies

Rogue nurse Lucy Letby has been convicted after what is believed to have been the longest murder trial in UK history.

On Friday - following a 10-month trial which started on 10 October last year - the jury was discharged with Letby having been found guilty of murdering seven babies. She was also convicted of attempting to kill six others.

Her crimes were committed in the neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital between 2015 and 2016, with prosecutors saying Letby, 33, was a “calculated opportunist” who used the vulnerabilities of premature and sick infants to camouflage her acts.

As the jury’s final verdicts were delivered on Friday (other verdicts were returned on earlier days, but could not be reported until now), Letby was not in the dock after she refused to come up from the cells. She will be sentenced on Monday.

The jurors, some of whom were in tears on Friday, 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.

And following 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, including 14 where Letby was in the witness box.

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

Overall, the prosecution called 246 witnesses in the trial.

The unprecedented length of the trial comes after Cheshire Police said it was an “investigation like no other”.

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

Senior investigating officer Det Supt Paul 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.

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“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.”

Det Supt Hughes said “we had to deal with this as 17 separate investigations” (as well as the seven murder and six attempted murder convictions, Letby also faced attempted murder counts relating to four further children, but the jury could not reach verdicts).

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. (Reuters)

He added: “We are normally used to dealing with one murder or attempted murder investigation at a time, let alone something on this scale.”

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