Nurse arrested for third time after death of 17 babies

Nurse arrested for third time after death of 17 babies

A UK nurse previously arrested twice during investigations into the deaths of infants at a neonatal unit has been arrested again - this time on suspicion of the murder of eight babies and the attempted murder of another nine.

Countess of Chester Hospital nurse Lucy Letby was originally arrested in 2018 and 2019 on suspicion of murder in relation to the deaths of eight babies and the attempted murder of six others.

The 30-year-old has been questioned in the past by detectives for two days while her Chester home in northwest England was searched, but was released without charge.

Police have revealed that Letby, who was once the face of a £3 million fundraising campaign, had been arrested again after new information came to light.

Detectives described the investigation as “extremely challenging”.

“It has been more than three years since we first launched an investigation into a number of baby deaths and non-fatal collapses at the neonatal unit at The Countess of Chester Hospital,” Detective Chief Inspector Paul Hughes said.

“In that time a dedicated team of detectives have been working extremely hard on this highly complex and very sensitive case, doing everything they can as quickly as they can to identify what has led to these baby deaths and collapses.

“Today, as part of our ongoing enquiries, the healthcare professional has been rearrested on suspicion of murder in relation to the deaths of eight babies and the attempted murder of nine babies.

“The woman is currently in custody helping officers with their enquiries.”

Cheshire Police has been investigating the deaths of infants and non-fatal collapses at the UK hospital for a long time now, after the hospital reported 17 infant deaths and 16 non-fatal collapses between March 2015 and July 2016.

“Parents of all the babies have been kept fully updated on this latest development and they are continuing to be supported throughout the process by specially trained officers,” Hughes said.

“This is an extremely difficult time for all the families and it is important to remember that, at the heart of this, there are a number of bereaved families seeking answers as to what happened to their children.”

A friend of Letby has described the nurse as being dedicated to her “dream job” and insisted that she ”wouldn’t hurt a fly”.

“We’re still reeling from it to be honest,” she told the Daily Mail.

“Even after sleeping on it I think everybody around here is still in a state of shock and disbelief.

“Lucy was doing the job she dreamed of doing and appeared nothing but dedicated and professional. You can’t imagine her hurting a fly let alone defenceless babies.”

A resident who lives on the same street as Letby told the Daily Mail said she was shocked when she heard of her arrest.

“I can’t add much more to what’s been already said about her,” she said.

“I knew her when she was a little girl and she was as sweet as anything. I’ve seen her grow up and she seemed a lovely woman.

“So this is news is deeply and utterly shocking. I can’t fathom it.”

A spokesman for the Countess of Chester Hospital said it was “co-operating fully” with the investigation.