Mother of Lucy Letby ‘victim’ had ‘strange feeling’ just before her daughter died

Lucy Letby is on trial for attempted murder
Lucy Letby is on trial for attempted murder - Chester Standard/SWNS

The mother of a newborn girl allegedly attacked by killer nurse Lucy Letby said she woke up with the “strangest feeling” shortly before her daughter died.

Letby, 34, is accused of attempting to murder the infant by displacing her breathing tube when she was being treated at the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neonatal unit.

The baby, known as Child K, was born “extremely premature” at 2.12am on Feb 17 2016 and weighed just 1lb 8oz (692g).

Child K was moved to the unit’s intensive care room, nursery one, before she was stable enough to be transferred to a more specialist hospital, jurors at Manchester Crown Court were told.

Within two hours of her birth, Letby was said to have been “caught virtually red-handed” by a senior consultant paediatrician when he entered the room and saw the defendant standing over the cot “doing nothing” as Child K’s blood oxygen levels dipped and alarms were not sounding as they should have done.

The prosecution says Letby went on to interfere with Child K’s breathing tube twice more on the same night shift in a bid to create the impression with her colleagues that the infant was habitually dislodging her own tube.

Child K was eventually transported to Wirral’s Arrowe Park Hospital later the same day.

She died there three days later although the prosecution does not allege Letby caused her death.

‘The hardest decision of my life’

In a witness statement read to the court on Thursday, Child K’s mother said she was lying awake in the family accommodation area at Arrowe Park in the early hours of February 20 when she said had the “strangest feeling which I cannot begin to describe”.

Her husband was also awake, she said, and they both went to see Child K.

She said: “As we walked into the room I could see the monitors and sats (oxygen saturation) readings were low. I knew straight away things weren’t great.

“The doctor confirmed the worst. I asked if it was just a waiting game now or if she was going to get better. We had a long conversation and she said what happens next was entirely our decision.

“I remember saying to the doctor that she had been poked and prodded from the moment she was born. Her tiny little delicate body had swollen up so much we didn’t want her to be suffering any more.

“We didn’t want to be informed that we’d lost our little girl by alarms on the machines going off. We didn’t want to prolong things any more.

“We made the decision together to switch off the machines and let her go. It was by far the hardest decision of my life.”

‘Fairly severe deterioration’

The child’s mother said their daughter was “wrapped in a blanket and was wearing a little hat” and took her “last breath” in her husband’s arms.

Child K’s mother wiped away tears as she sat in court with her husband, while Letby followed proceedings from the dock flanked by three security guards.

Dr John Gibbs, a consultant paediatrician who worked at the Countess of Chester for 25 years until his retirement in 2019, told the jury that the description of a baby collapse on a neonatal unit meant a “fairly severe deterioration which needs intervention and it’s usually sudden”.

Levels of oxygen in the blood would ideally be kept above 90 per cent but with a collapse, they would drop to 70 per cent or less, he said.

Dr Gibbs added that a significant drop in saturation together with a heart rate which goes below 60 beats per minute would be a “worry”.

Junior prosecutor Simon Driver asked: “What are the range of appropriate interventions for a nurse or a doctor at the side of an incubator when a baby suffers a collapse or is heading to a collapse?”

Dr Gibbs replied: “It depends what help they were receiving at the time. If they are mechanically ventilated the initial first response is to turn the oxygen up on the ventilator.

“If the baby is not improving then they need to call for help.”

The jury of six men and six women has been told that Letby was convicted at a trial last year of the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of six other infants at the Countess of Chester between June 2015 and June 2016.

Letby, of Hereford, denies one count of attempted murder. A court order prohibits reporting of the identities of the surviving and dead children in the case.

The trial continues.