Lucy Letby’s horrifying crimes have culminated in a conviction for the murder of seven infants and the attempted murder of six others during her tenure as a nurse at the Countess of Chester Hospital. The 33-year-old was pronounced guilty on August 18 in Manchester Crown Court, with the Crown Prosecution Service characterising her as a ‘calculated opportunist’ and ‘cold-blooded’ throughout the trial.
The unsettling details of Letby’s actions were laid bare during the trial, revealing a chilling insight into her mindset. Her arrest on July 3, 2018, by Cheshire Constabulary marked the beginning of a thorough investigation that led to the discovery of handwritten notes concealed within her former residence. These notes contained alarming confessions, including self-descriptions as ‘evil’ and the stark declaration ‘I did this.’
Central to the trial was a specific note that prosecutors aimed to present to the jury. This note contained deeply disturbing phrases such as ‘I don’t deserve to live,’ ‘I ki**ed them on purpose because I’m not good enough to care for them,’ ‘I am a horrible evil person,’ and ‘I am evil, I did this.’ Prosecutor Nick Johnson KC urged the jurors to interpret these words literally, considering them as a confession.
Letby’s defence team portrayed the post-it note’s content as an ‘anguished outpouring of a young woman in fear and despair.’ During her testimony, Letby revealed her own perspective on the matter. She explained, “I felt at the time that if I’d done something wrong I must be such an evil, awful person… I’d somehow been incompetent and had done something wrong which had affected those babies.”
Detective Superintendent Paul Hughes, the lead investigator, proposed an intriguing theory. He suggested that Letby’s notes were an attempt to gain notoriety, offering a potential motive for her actions. He pondered why Letby didn’t destroy the incriminating evidence despite knowing she was under investigation. Hughes speculated, “In my view, she wrote it down and left it for us to find. She knew the police were investigating… she wrote it down to be found.”
Hughes further contemplated whether Letby sought recognition for her actions and questioned her true motivations. He emphasised her intelligence and noted, “Did she want the notoriety that she’s got? Without telling us why, then the motive was right in front of us for us to find.”
While the precise motive may remain enigmatic, DS Hughes dismissed the notion that Letby entered nursing with intentions to commit such heinous crimes against infants. He theorised that nursing provided her with access to the most vulnerable in society, potentially offering her the opportunity she sought.
Letby’s conviction has led to a life sentence, making her the fourth woman in the UK to receive a whole life order, the most severe punishment. Throughout the trial, Letby appeared in court; however, she chose not to attend the sentencing hearing at Manchester Crown Court, leaving her reasons undisclosed by the presiding judge.
The case of Lucy Letby stands as a grim reminder of the capacity for darkness within human behaviour and the importance of unearthing the truth to seek justice for the innocent lives lost.