Two families who believe their babies may have been killed by Lucy Letby want police to investigate, The Telegraph can reveal.
Parents of infants treated at the Countess of Chester Hospital, where Letby murdered seven babies and attempted to kill six others, have raised concerns about the way their children died.
Both mothers could be considered vulnerable – one is from Lithuania and does not speak much English, while the other has learning difficulties and struggles with reading and writing. Both believe Letby was present when they were at the hospital with their children.
The nurse appeared to have signed one baby’s baptism book, while the other infant’s father recognised Letby from media coverage of the trial.
Police contacted the families during their initial investigation but they were not included in the original case, which concluded earlier this month.
‘We don’t believe we’ve had justice’
Detectives are now working through the admissions of 4,000 babies to neonatal units at the two hospitals where Letby worked and looking for any suspicious incidents in which she may have been involved.
Emily Morris, whose one-month-old son Alvin died in the Countess of Chester Hospital neonatal unit after he was christened in 2013, told The Telegraph: “We don’t believe we’ve had justice.”
On Friday, Rishi Sunak said he wanted the inquiry into Letby’s crimes to be led by a judge to ensure there is a “strong, independent voice” who can “get to the bottom of what happened”.
The Prime Minister said: “Obviously this was one of the most despicable, horrific crimes in our history and it’s really important that we get answers, particularly for the families of the victims.”
Downing Street said the Government had not yet decided whether the inquiry should be put on a statutory footing, meaning it would have the power to compel witnesses – including hospital bosses – to attend.
It comes amid growing anger over the alleged failure of hospital managers to take action after concerns were raised about the killer nurse. Amanda Pritchard, the chief executive of the NHS, will hold an urgent meeting next weekto discuss potential new powers to discipline hospital managers for “serious misconduct”.
On Friday, it emerged that Tony Chambers, the Countess of Chester Hospital’s former chief executive – who has been accused of shutting down concerns about Letby – was paid up to £80,000 by the trust for nine months after he resigned.
It is understood that, for six months of that period, Mr Chambers was seconded to another trust and spent a furtherthree months preparing for the secondment.
Letby will die in jail after being sentenced to a whole life order by Mr Justice Goss for her “campaign of child murder” that showed a “deep malevolence bordering on sadism”.
Addressing the 33-year-old at Manchester Crown Court on Monday, he said: “The babies you harmed were born prematurely and some were at risk of not surviving, but in each case you deliberately harmed them, intending to kill them.”
Letby began working as a student at the Countess of Chester Hospital in 2010 and first worked on its neonatal unit that year. She went full-time on the ward in January 2012, although she also undertook short placements at Liverpool Women’s Hospital.
Ms Morris, 35, said her son Alvin was born three weeks early in January 2013. Four days after the birth, he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy (MD), an inherited genetic condition that causes muscles to weaken progressively. While MD can prove fatal for some infants, many people with it live into their 20s and 30s.
She and her partner Mark Lewis, 39, said hospital staff told them that Alvin’s condition was “mild” and that he had been progressing well on the unit.
They had him baptised there, marking the occasion with a christening book signed by family and staff. In neat cursive – a style seemingly identical to Letby’s handwriting in diaries seen during the trial – one message reads: “To Alvin, with love on your special day, Lucy x.”
The killer was caring for Alvin in the 24 hours before his sudden death in February 2013, his mother recalled.
“She was in the room the day he died,” said Ms Morris, who remembers hearing Letby complaining to a colleague in the nursery that she did not feel well and needed to go home.
“And a couple of hours afterwards, he just died. That’s why I still think in my heart that she did something to him,” she said.
A second mother whose two-day-old baby died on the unit in 2015 has also called for detectives to re-examine her daughter’s case.
Police investigating Letby contacted the couple in 2017, but the investigation did not progress. But the baby’s father said he recognised Letby’s face during coverage of the trial, fuelling their concerns that she could have been involved.
The little girl, described only as M at the parents’ request, was born at just over 40 weeks after a healthy pregnancy. Her mother said the delivery did not go to plan and her daughter was born during an emergency Caesarean on Sept 2 2015.
However, doctors were concerned that the baby could pick up an infection and moved her to an incubator in the neonatal unit to be treated with antibiotics and monitored.
Soon, they said the baby was “already improving”. But in the early hours of Sept 4, staff woke the mother in the middle of the night to inform her that her baby had become seriously unwell. She walked into the unit to see doctors attempting resuscitation, but the baby died.
The mother said that the first post-mortem examination results showed nothing, but a second carried out by a hospital in Liverpool found the infant had a rare heart defect and lung failure.
During the trial, the jury heard how some of the babies Letby has now been convicted of harming had damage to their heart or lungs. The mother also said she had noticed “dark spots” on her daughter’s chest, another symptom the court was told emerged on many of Letby’s victims.
She urged police to re-investigate, saying: “I cannot say for certain if she is responsible, but the entire situation always seemed weird to me because the entire pregnancy was fine and no one said anything was wrong with my daughter. The first day that my baby was born, they told me everything is fine with her.”
The revelations come as executives running the trust during the period Letby killed babies are facing increased questions about their handling of the scandal.
In a statement, Jane Tomkinson, the acting chief executive officer at the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said it “will be supporting the ongoing investigation by Cheshire police”.
“Due to ongoing legal considerations, it would not be appropriate for the trust to make any further comment at this time,” she added.
Cheshire Constabulary said the operation is “committed to a complete and thorough investigation into the full period of time that Lucy Letby was employed as a nurse” and that “the families of all babies, who are part of this investigation, have been informed and are supported”.
‘I still think in my heart that she did something to him’
Emily Morris, from Deeside in north Wales, said “it just makes me feel sick, looking at that page” when she discovered that Letby appeared to have written in her son’s christening book.
Her son Alvin’s christening at the hospital on Feb 1 was supposed to be a special family occasion, but Ms Morris recalled that it was overshadowed by the “clingy” and controlling behaviour of one nurse – Letby.
“She watched all my family like a hawk,” she said. “My whole family noticed that she was staring them down when they were leaning over the pram.”
She recalled that Letby showed the same kind of behaviour on the ward, adding: “The other nurses were no problem – they didn’t lean over your baby unless they had to. She [Letby] seemed to be doing it on purpose sometimes, saying constantly, ‘the blanket is dirty’,” she said.
Alvin was born at the hospital on Jan 2 2013. His death barely a month later shocked Ms Morris and her partner. It felt inexplicable.
He was born three weeks early and was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at four days old. Ms Morris knew all too well how serious the disease can be. Two years earlier, in 2011, she had given birth to a little girl, Charlene, who was diagnosed with severe MD.
Tragically, Charlene also died when she was two months old, but the two children’s short lives were very different. The family said the little girl had been much more unwell than Alvin, whose condition was “mild”. “She was suffering, but Alvin wasn’t. He was happy,” said Ms Morris.
Although her son was initially placed in nursery one, where the sickest babies were cared for, he was later moved to nursery three, which Ms Morris said is “quite a good room” and “where you start to build up to go home”.
While medics counselled the family ahead of Charlene’s death, nothing could have prepared Ms Morris and Mr Lewis for being called back into the neonatal unit to see Alvin, only to be told he had already died.
“They put him in my partner’s arms and said: ‘I’m sorry. He’s already gone,’” said Ms Morris.
The family felt they did not have any answers. “They didn’t do a post-mortem,” she said. “With Charlene, they said: ‘Do you want a post-mortem?’ and I said: ‘Yes.’ But with Alvin they didn’t, but they knew what Charlene had died of.”
Like Alvin, Charlene was born at the Countess of Chester Hospital, but was later transferred to Alder Hey in Liverpool, where she died.
“Alvin didn’t live as long as Charlene did, which is wrong. If he had the condition mildly, what happened?” she asked. “This has been going around our heads and nobody has been out to talk to us about it.”
Then one day in 2018, a police liaison officer knocked on her door and started asking questions about Alvin’s death. “He wouldn’t speak to me on my own. He said: ‘I want your partner or your brother there,’” said Ms Morris.
When the officer said they were re-examining her son Alvin’s death, she replied: “He died years ago, why are you bringing him up?”
Ms Morris recalled learning about the police investigation into Letby. As she and her family heard more about the crimes for which the nurse is now convicted, they realised she could be responsible for Alvin’s sudden decline and death.
After the first few police visits, Ms Morris said the liaison officer called her to say that they had “found something” in Alvin’s case.
But when they visited her house a couple of days later, she was instead told “we didn’t find anything” and that the force “didn’t agree to take it further”.
Ten years have now passed since Alvin’s death, and all Ms Morris has left to remember him by are a few photographs, a teddy bear and a christening book that appears to be signed by a serial killer. She wants the police to re-investigate his case.
‘My pregnancy went fine – but my daughter died at just two days old’
The parents of M, who died after two days at the Countess of Chester Hospital, have questions about how their apparently healthy baby could have died so suddenly.
Although her pregnancy had been smooth, when M’s 19-year-old mother arrived on Sept 2 2015, her delivery did not go to plan. Shortly after being told it was time to push, the emergency lights came on and doctors intervened.
She has little memory of the events that followed, save that she woke up following her C-section and was told by her husband that she had given birth to a girl.
When the mother asked to see her child, who was in an incubator, she was told “not yet” because the baby needed to be examined.
The newborn had been moved to the neonatal unit for monitoring, and doctors said she was being given antibiotics because they were concerned she could have inhaled some potentially infectious amniotic fluid.
The mother recalls medics saying her daughter was already improving and would be back with her parents by the following day. She was permitted a 30-minute visit, which would prove to be the only time she ever met her baby girl.
In the early hours of Sept 4, the mother was woken up in the middle of the night to be told the situation had become urgent.
Ushered into a wheelchair, she was taken to see her daughter, who was being resuscitated. Medics were unsuccessful in their attempts, and the baby died. The experience was shattering for the couple, who struggled to cope.
“Now that the shock is over, I’m thinking, why did I only spend half an hour with her?” the mother told The Telegraph. “But when I was told that she would be with me tomorrow, I thought that there would be plenty of time for us to be together, that I needed to rest, and so we went back to the ward.”
Eight years on, and it looks possible that the role played by Letby might finally bring some answers. The infant’s father remembers seeing the nurse and believes she may have been involved in the care of his daughter.
The couple have watched the trial from Lithuania, where they now live, and have begun to wonder about the circumstances in which their daughter died.
Looking back, they now feel concerned about a “rash” and marks they saw appear on their daughter’s body.
Her first post-mortem examination showed “nothing”, before a second by a hospital in Liverpool said she had a rare heart and lung defect.
The problem was never picked up on scans before the birth, fuelling the mother’s fears that something – or someone – else caused her death. The Letby jury heard how some of the babies the nurse has now been convicted of harming had damage to their heart or lungs.
“In my heart, I don’t believe that it was some kind of heart defect,” said the now 29-year-old, who has gone on to have two more children.
In 2017, a police officer contacted her about the death of her daughter. “He told us that there were suspicions, that this and that could have happened to your baby,” she said.
The mother recalls how the officer said they were investigating a nurse, and that “there were many similar events, namely related to the heart and lungs”, prompting suspicion over her daughter.
Following this, the couple returned to Lithuania and, while they received several emails from a second officer, “nobody contacted us again”.
Now that Letby has been convicted, she wants the case to be re-investigated. Looking back, she can see that “when we left Chester Hospital, nobody gave us any answers”.
“We were in shock,” she said. “There was only one question for us: why did this happen?”
With the prospect of a forthcoming police investigation, it is possible at least some of her questions might be resolved.