Murder accused nurse Lucy Letby “told off” a colleague who shouted for help when a baby’s oxygen levels dropped, her trial has been told.
Neonatal assistant Lisa Walker told jurors at Manchester Crown Court she was “shocked” and “taken aback” when Letby asked why she had sought assistance. Ms Walker said she and the defendant – who is accused of murdering seven babies and trying to kill 10 others – were working together in a neonatal room at the Countess of Chester Hospital when an incident took place.
The Crown says Letby injected babies with air, insulin or too much milk to kill them between June 2015 and June 2016. The 32-year-old of Arran Avenue, Hereford denies all the allegations.
Ms Walker told the court they were feeding infants in opposite corners of the room when an alarm monitor sounded at the cot where Letby was. Giving evidence from behind a screen on Monday, Ms Walker said the alarm indicated oxygen levels had fallen. Letby stopped the feed through a breathing tube, commenced “gentle stimulation” of the baby and, when that did not work, she gave oxygen via a facial mask, the jury heard.
She said the baby did not respond to the oxygen at first and she shouted for help as a nurse walked past the door. Ms Walker said a doctor also came into the room but agreed the oxygen levels had increased by that point and later left.
She told the court: “Then Lucy said to me, ‘Why did you shout for help?’” Philip Astbury, prosecuting, asked: “In what way?” Ms Walker replied: “Quite firmly.” She added that she was “shocked because you can’t have enough help in that situation”.
She told the court she felt: “Quite taken aback and shocked because it’s something you would not expect a nurse to say.” Mr Astbury said: “Why has it stuck in your memory?” The witness said: “It’s because I was told off for shouting for help.”
Ms Walker agreed with Ben Myers, KC, defending, that she could not remember the date of the incident, or the name and sex of the baby involved. Mr Myers said: “You didn’t see anything regarding Ms Letby’s actions towards the baby which caused you any concern at all?” “No,” said Ms Walker. She told Mr Myers she did not get the impression that Letby asked the question because she felt help was unnecessary in the situation.
Earlier, a doctor told the court it was “completely unclear” why a baby allegedly murdered by Letby had “dramatic deteriorations”. The girl, referred to as Child D, is said to be the third child murdered by the defendant in a two-week period, with another youngster suffering a life-threatening collapse during the same time.
Registrar Andrew Brunton was called three times by concerned nurses during a night-shift in the early hours of 22 June 2015 before Child D was pronounced dead. Fellow junior prosecutor Simon Driver asked Dr Brunton: “Having made repeated observations and examinations on (Child D) during the course of the shift which culminated in her death, how would you summarise the evolution of her condition that night?”
He replied: “From when I came in on my night shift there were no particular worries or concerns identified, but by 1.40am to the time of her death she had dramatic deteriorations over different points. It was completely unclear to me why that was occurring. I had never seen a baby behave in that manner prior to this and I have never seen a baby behave in that manner after this.” The trial continues.
What charges is Lucy Letby facing?
Letby is accused of murdering five boys and two girls. It is also alleged she attempted to murder another five boys and five girls. The children cannot be named for legal reasons. The allegations are said to have taken place between June 2015 and June 2016 while she was working at the Countess of Chester Hospital.
Letby, of Arran Avenue, Hereford denies all the allegations. The defendan earlier pleaded not guilty to seven counts of murder and 15 counts of attempted murder at Manchester Crown Court.
Family members of some of her alleged child victims sat in the public gallery listening as the names of the children were read out during her not guilty pleas. On the other side of the public gallery sat the defendant’s parents, John, 76, and Susan, 62.