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Nurse accused of murdering eight babies remanded in custody

A nurse accused of the murders of eight babies in a year-long killing spree at a hospital neonatal unit has been remanded in custody.

Lucy Letby, 30, is alleged to have murdered five baby boys and three baby girls while working at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

She is also accused of the attempted murder of five baby boys and five baby girls, all between June 2015 and June 1016.

The charges took just over two and a half minutes to read out in full when the defendant appeared by video-link at Warrington Magistrates’ Court on Thursday morning.

Letby spoke in a strong, clear voice, giving her name, date of birth and address at the start of the brief 10-minute hearing.

Sketch of Lucy Letby, next to her solicitor Richard Thomas (Elizabeth Cook/PA)
Sketch of Lucy Letby, next to her solicitor Richard Thomas (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

The defendant appeared on video sitting in front of a desk, beside her solicitor, partially shaded, in a room at Blacon police station.

Pascale Jones, prosecuting, told the court Letby should be remanded into custody for her own safety.

She said: “The crown will also stress there is substantial grounds to believe for her own protection this defendant should be remanded into custody.”

The eight counts of murder of a victim under one year old are: Cemlyn Bennett, Joseph Johnson, Elsie McNall, Barney Gee, Daisy Parkin, Maddie Freed, Joseph Gelder and Eli Gelder.

The 10 charges of attempted murder are each of potential victims under one year old, one count of which includes Maddie Freed.

District Judge Nicholas Sanders imposed an order restricting the reporting of the names of the surviving babies subject to the attempted murder charges.

Only two members of the press were allowed into the courtroom, with a dozen more in an annex courtroom next door, watching via videolink and more locked out of the court building due to restricted access because of social distancing measures.

Families of the babies were also watching the proceedings via the same link at remote locations.

The Countess of Chester Hospital (Peter Byrne/PA)
The Countess of Chester Hospital (Peter Byrne/PA)

District Judge Sanders warned there should be no audio or video recordings of the proceedings.

The judge, addressing the defendant, said: “Today’s court hearing is for a number of matters.

“I won’t be taking any plea today, as I’m sure Mr Thomas has discussed with you.

“These are matters allocated to the crown court, today is a preliminary hearing to send to the crown court.”

He added: “These matters are allocated to the crown court for trial, your first date is at 2.15pm tomorrow, November 13.

“I’m told the crown court will be arranging for production (of the defendant) tomorrow.”

Letby, of Arran Avenue, Hereford, was arrested in 2018 and 2019 as part of the police investigation into the Countess of Chester Hospital, which began in 2017.

“She was arrested for a third time on Tuesday and charged last night with the 18 offences.”

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