Mother ‘completely trusted’ nurse when she left ‘screaming’ son in her care

A mother “completely trusted” nurse Lucy Letby when she left her “screaming” son in her care, a court has heard.

Letby, 32, is said to have murdered the infant with an injection of air into the bloodstream.

The Crown say she attacked the newborn baby, referred to as Child E, shortly before his mother walked into the intensive care room of the neo-natal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

Giving evidence on Monday, Child E’s mother told jurors at Manchester Crown Court she visited the unit just before 9pm on August 3 2015 to drop off breast milk.

Lucy Letby court case
Manchester Crown Court, where Lucy Letby is on trial for murder (PA)

Her son and his twin brother, Child F – who Letby is accused of later attempting to murder – were in incubators in the room with Letby, she said.

Prosecutor Nick Johnson KC asked: “What could you see and hear when you walked into the room?”

She replied: “I could hear my son crying and it was like nothing I had heard before. And I walked over to the incubator to see blood coming out of his mouth.

“And I panicked… I was panicking… because it felt there was something wrong.”

The witness recalled Letby was standing at a nearby work station when she entered the room.

“She was busy doing something but was not near (Child E),” said the boy’s mother.

She told the court she heard the cries in the main corridor as she approached the room.

She added: “It was a sound that should not come from a tiny baby. I can’t explain what the sound was. It was horrendous. More of a scream than a cry.”

The mother explained she tried in vain to comfort her son and then noticed blood around his bottom lip and top of his chin.

Mr Johnson asked: “Did you ask Lucy Letby about what it was you could see?”

The witness replied: “Yes. I asked why he was bleeding and what was wrong.

“She said the feed tube from the back of his throat would have been rubbing and that would have caused the bleeding.”

Mr Johnson said: “Did you accept that explanation?”

“Yes,” said the witness.

Mr Johnson said: “Were you concerned about the explanation?”

“Yes,” repeated the witness.

Mr Johnson asked: “Did Lucy Letby say anything else to you?”

Child E’s mother said: “She told me to go back on the ward.”

Mr Johnson said: “Did you do what you were told?”

“Yes,” said the witness.

Mr Johnson went on: “Why?”

The boy’s mother said: “Because she was an authority and she knew better than me and I trusted her. Completely.

“She said the registrar was on the way and if it was a problem someone would ring up to the post-natal ward.”

She said when she returned to the ward she phoned her husband.

“I knew there was something very, very wrong. I was frightened,” she said.

She said she was “panicking” but was “following the rules” in waiting for any update.

She told the court: “The rules were go back upstairs and if there was a problem I would call you and that was Lucy Letby on the neo-natal unit. I followed those rules.”

The witness later cried as she told jurors: “I knew. I knew there was something wrong and I had known from leaving him but I left.”

Child E later deteriorated and his mother was later brought back to the unit where she sat outside in the corridor as medics unsuccessfully attempted to resuscitate him.

The witness said she had more contact with Letby following Child E’s death

She said: “I was asked if I would like to bath (Child E). At that time I didn’t feel like I was able to. I was just broken and I couldn’t so Lucy Letby bathed him in front of me in the neo-natal unit.”

Sketch of Lucy Letby at Manchester Crown Court
Sketch of Lucy Letby at Manchester Crown Court (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

She broke into tears as she added: ”After he was bathed he was placed in a white gown. I just remember being thankful because we had no clothes for him because he was so little.

“He was given back to us and went back into his incubator and that is where he stayed.”

She said she was “totally surprised” when she was given a memory box containing his footprints, a memory card with pictures on, a lock of hair, a candle and a teddy.

“I was so overcome with emotion that this had been provided to me because I had no other memories apart from that,” she told the court.

Letby later presented her with a photograph of Child F holding his twin brother’s teddy, she said.

The witness said: “She said ‘I got this picture. He rolled over and hugged his bear. I thought it was so amazing I took a picture for you’.

Earlier she told the court the birth of her sons was expected to take place at Liverpool Women’s Hospital but instead she was taken to Chester for “capacity reasons”.

By August 1 she and her husband were waiting for an expected transfer of the twins to a local hospital nearer home, she said.

“We were absolutely thrilled the boys were doing so well,” she said.

She said her husband returned home on August 3 to prepare for her arrival and she had skin-to-skin contact in the early evening and changed Child E’s nappy before she left the neo-natal unit.

“I was just over the moon,” she said: “I was absolutely over the moon. My two boys were perfect.”

Ben Myers KC, defending, said: “What happened that night, it must have been very intense and very upsetting?”

“Yes,” replied the witness.

Mr Myers said: “I am suggesting there were three times you went down that evening.

“I am going to suggest you went down about 8pm… then actually it’s nearer to 10pm – rather than 9pm – when you went down with the breast milk. And you then went back again when (Child E) was being resuscitated at about 11pm.

“Do you disagree with that?”

Child E’s mother said: “Absolutely.”

Mr Myers went on: “I am not going to suggest that (Child E) was not upset when you went down. I am going to suggest he was not as upset to the degree you described. It was not as bad as that?”

The witness replied: “ It was horrendous.”

Mr Myers said: “You said what you saw was blood. Is it possible what you saw was some sort of dark liquid with flecks of material – aspirates?

Child E’s mother said: “It was blood.”

Mr Myers said: “I suggest to you that there was no time that Miss Letby said the tube was irritating (Child E)?

The witness said: “I disagree.”

Letby, originally from Hereford, denies the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of 10 others between June 2015 and June 2016.