Doctor unable to ‘truly explain’ baby girl’s death, murder trial jury told

A doctor said she still cannot “truly explain” the fatal collapse of a baby girl, jurors in the murder trial of Lucy Letby heard.

Letby, 33, is alleged to have murdered seven babies and attempted to kill 10 others while she worked at the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neo-natal unit.

Premature-born infant, Child I, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, is said to have been the ninth child the defendant attacked from June 2015 to June 2016.

The Crown says the nurse murdered Child I at her fourth attempt by administering a fatal dose of air during the night shift of October 22/23, 2015.

Giving evidence on Friday, registrar Dr Rachel Chang said there were no concerns over Child I prior to midnight.

She was then crash bleeped to attend the cotside of the youngster who suffered a sudden drop in heart rate and blood oxygen levels.

Child I stabilised after she received cardiac compressions and breathing support, the court heard.

Lucy Letby court case
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Lucy Letby appearing in the dock at Manchester Crown Court (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Dr Chang said: “I didn’t have any worrying thoughts. She has had an event. She had had lots of events.

“But I had to work with what was in front of us, which is that she recovered very quickly.”

About an hour later Child I similarly deteriorated but doctors and nurses, including Letby, were unable to revive her in a prolonged resuscitation attempt.

Dr Chang tearfully recalled how Child I did not respond to initial chest compressions and ventilation efforts.

Philip Astbury, prosecuting, asked: “Have you reflected on the death of (Child I) and the causes?”

“Yes,” replied Dr Chang.

Mr Astbury said: “And the shift, generally?”

Dr Chang said: “Yes.”

Mr Astbury said: “What has that caused you, if anything, to think?”

The witness replied: “Just that I have been never able to truly explain it. That it was awful.

“But I was never worried. I knew we had done everything and I did everything I’d done the first time I attended.

“I trusted everyone around me implicitly.”

In a statement read to the court, nurse Christopher Booth said staff had got to know Child I and her family “really well” from her time on the unit since August 2015.

Child I was “quite a character herself”, he said.

Mr Booth said: “We all were fond of her and had high hopes for her. It was gut-wrenching for the (nursing) team as a group.”

He said he wrote to the ward manager to say the team involved in the resuscitation efforts were “all heartbroken”.

Mr Booth said: “I wanted her to know that as a team everyone had tried their hardest and did their best.

“If we were not such a good team we would have crumbled because there were so many horrible things going on.”

Fellow nurse Melanie Taylor said staff were “devastated”.

She stated: “It was just pure shock. She was stable before that.

“I think her parents came in during resus. I remember them walking into nursery 1 and standing there, not really knowing what to do and myself not knowing what to say.

“The actual resuscitation is a bit of a blur to be honest.

“I remember right at the end, the doctor decided to call it and said we should stop.

“I had been looking at (Child I) and the monitor, thinking she is going to come out of it.

“My heart just dropped. When he said ‘stop’ I was just devastated, especially when I looked at the parents.”

Nursery nurse Valerie Thomas recalled she took a phone call from Child I’s mother who asked for an update from the first collapse.

She said: “I went into room 1 and said (Child I’s) mum was on the phone, not realising (Child I) was being resuscitated there.

“Lucy Letby said her parents should come in.”

The prosecution say the defendant made earlier bids to deliberately harm Child I on September 30, October 13 and 14.

Letby, originally from Hereford, denies all the allegations.

The trial continues on Monday.