London: A British nurse was found guilty Friday of murdering seven newborn babies and trying to murder six others at the hospital neonatal unit where she worked, becoming the UK's most prolific killer of children.
Lucy Letby, 33 - on trial since last October - was accused of injecting her young victims, who were either sick or born prematurely, with air, overfeeding them milk and poisoning them with insulin.
The jury at Manchester Crown Court in northern England reached all of its verdicts after deliberating for 22 days.
Letby was arrested following a string of baby deaths at the neonatal unit of the Countess of Chester Hospital in northwest England between June 2015 and June 2016.
Described by the prosecution as a "calculating" woman who used methods of killing that "didn't leave much of a trace", Letby had repeatedly denied harming the children.
"Lucy Letby was entrusted to protect some of the most vulnerable babies. Little did those working alongside her know that there was a murderer in their midst," Senior Crown Prosecutor Pascale Jones said in a statement.
"Time and again, she harmed babies, in an environment which should have been safe for them and their families," the prosecutor added, calling the killings "a complete betrayal of the trust placed in her".
The court heard that colleagues raised concerns after noticing that Letby was on shift when each of the babies collapsed, with some of the newborns attacked just as their parents left their cots.
Prosecutor Nick Johnson said Letby "gaslighted" her colleagues into believing the string of deaths were "just a run of bad luck".
Letby's final victims were two triplet boys, referred to in court as babies O and P.
Child O died shortly after Letby returned from a holiday in Ibiza in June 2016, while child P died a day after their sibling.
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Letby was also said to have attempted to kill the third triplet, child Q, but the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the charge.
Johnson said that by that time Letby was "completely out of control", adding that "she was in effect playing God".
Letby was arrested and released twice. On her third arrest in 2020 she was formally charged and held in custody.
During searches at her home, police found hospital paperwork and a handwritten note on which Letby had written: "I am evil, I did this."
Letby later tried to explain the note by saying she wrote it after being placed on clerical duties following the death of the two triplets.
She said that decision to remove her from medical duties had left her feeling like she had "done something wrong".
Barrister Ben Myers, defending Letby, told the court she was "hardworking, deeply committed" and "loved her work".
He pointed to the fragile health of the babies, many of whom were born prematurely, and said the neonatal unit was overstretched and understaffed.
Letby also suggested that a "gang" of four senior doctors pinned blame on her to cover for the hospital's failings.
When Letby took the stand at her trial, she insisted she "always wanted to work with children" and said it was "devastating" to find out she was blamed for the deaths.
Here are details of previous notorious cases:
One of Britain's most prolific serial killers, Dr Harold Shipman was convicted of killing 15 patients, but he is believed to have murdered as many as 250 between 1971 and 1998.
The once-trusted family GP from near Manchester, northwest England, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2000. He hanged himself in his cell four years later.
Shipman - nicknamed "Doctor Death" - injected his patients, many of them elderly, with a lethal dose of morphine and then signed death certificates to say they died of natural causes.
Shipman was caught after the daughter of his last victim was informed of a suspicious will seemingly made by her mother that left a large sum to Shipman and excluded the family.
But his motives remain unclear as in most cases he had nothing to gain from the deaths of his victims.
Nurse Beverley Allitt was found guilty of killing or attacking 13 sick children, who had been in her care at Grantham and Kesteven General Hospital in Lincolnshire, eastern England.
In the early 1990s, Allitt murdered four children by administering fatal doses of insulin. Some of her victims were left with life-long injuries.
She was sentenced in 1993 to 13 life sentences for the crimes with a minimum term of 30 years.
It is believed Allitt suffered from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a mental health condition that is characterised by a caregiver creating health problems in another person, usually a child.
Allitt is being held at a high-security psychiatric hospital. The judge at her trial said it was unlikely she would ever be released.
Nurse Victorino Chua was convicted for murdering two patients and poisoning others with insulin while working at the Stepping Hill hospital near Manchester in 2011.
The Filipino-born nurse contaminated saline bags and ampoules, with other nurses unwittingly using the products.
He was also found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to a third patient, who was left brain damaged. Chua was jailed for life in 2015 with a minimum term of 35 years.
Detectives had described the father of two as a narcissistic psychopath and said he had shown a complete lack of remorse for his crimes.
Chua described himself in a letter found at his home as "an angel turned into an evil person", writing that "there's a devil in me".
The hospital nurse was jailed for life in 2008 with a minimum term of 30 years for murdering four frail and elderly patients and trying to kill a fifth at two hospitals in Leeds in 2002.
Branded "evil" by the judge at his trial, Norris gave all five women overdoses of diabetes drug insulin as they recovered from surgery on hip fractures.
The judge described him as "an arrogant and manipulative man with a real dislike of elderly patients".
Norris, originally from Glasgow, had once said he did not like caring for "geriatric patients".
Norris came under suspicion after he predicted the death of one woman, who slipped into a fatal hypoglycaemic coma later in his shift.
He was charged after detectives discovered striking similarities between deaths that happened while he was on duty.
During police questioning, Norris denied any involvement and tried to explain away the deaths as coincidence, telling officers he had been "unlucky over the last 12 months".
Nurse Benjamin Geen gave patients potentially deadly injections between December 2003 and February 2004 because he enjoyed the thrill of trying to revive them at Horton General Hospital in Oxfordshire, southern England.
He was found guilty on two counts of murder and of causing grievous bodily harm to 15 surviving victims and in 2006 was sentenced to at least 30 years in jail.
Geen used different drugs on his victims, including insulin, muscle relaxants and sedatives - all commonly used in the hospital but potentially deadly in the wrong hands.
Eventually, after an alcoholic was admitted with stomach pains and ended up in intensive care, suspicions were raised and investigation at the hospital led to the nurse.
Geen was arrested as he arrived for work the next day, with a full syringe of muscle relaxant in his pocket.