Wednesday, 22 May 2024

A treasure trove of notes – Inside Lucy Letby’s troubling mind

Teddy bears, Disney ornaments and a framed slogan reading “Leave Sparkles Wherever You Go” are not unusual home décor for an NHS nurse …. unless you’re Britain’s worst female child murderer.

For the first time, the world was given a glimpse into the enigma that is Lucy Letby, when the jury saw Crime Scene Investigation photographs from inside her Chester home and untidy bedroom.

Letby was arrested in July 2018 at her three-bedroom semi two years after being shunted off the neo-natal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital, following suspicions she was harming babies.

But when detectives entered they found a treasure trove of notes, NHS paperwork and mementos gifting a rare unmasking of her persona, which despite a 10-month trial remained largely a blank canvas.

Her bed was covered by a duvet bearing the motif “Sweet Dreams”, and arranged at the pillow end of the bed were four cuddly toys – Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, a rabbit and a light brown teddy bear. There were heart motifs on the place settings on her dining table.

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Her kitchen boasted photographs of her cousins and two godchildren, work photos of her in her scrubs and a thank you card written to “Auntie Lucy” from her godchildren, after Christmas.

Letby wept when the jury saw images of her ornaments such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, as well as pictures of her cats Tigger and Smudge and letters from her relatives including one written to the “No1 Godmother”. A newspaper-style novelty card refers to her parents attending the Hay Festival,

Outside her house, a rose begins to climb a trellis in her garden, while a second trellis has been adorned with coloured lights.

But the gold dust for police and the Crown’s case were a series of scrawled notes containing angst, doubt, anger, and depression – three notes alone found in a handbag and one Post-It note found in a diary.

The notes also contained amorous declarations of “I loved you” to a male registrar she once worked with – who cannot be named – and names of some of the babies whose deaths later formed part of the trial, identical twins babies O and P.

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But the notes also revealed alarming and desperate comments, including “Help Me”, “I Can’t Do This Anymore”, “Kill Me” and “How Can Life Be This Way”.

One even contained lyrics from Craig David’s song, including the line “Love was all we needed” and “Time let us down”.

Letby claimed she had always scribbled down thoughts, explaining: “That’s my way of dealing with things. I never throw anything away. Everything is just kept.”

She said she had written the expression “Not good enough” as “that’s the overwhelming thought I had about myself at the time, because of the way people had made me feel” – claiming she feared she might have been “incompetent or done something wrong that had harmed children.”

Her notes often appeared as a jumble of words crammed onto a single sheet of paper – such as “There are no words…I can’t breathe…I can’t focus…Overwhelming fear and panic” and “Why Me?”

Once she scrawled: “I’m an awful person. I pay every day for that right now” – while in one telling script, she penned: “Never have children or marry. I’ll never know what it’s like to have a family.”

She tried to explain that away to the jury by claiming: “I couldn’t see any future for myself…There were times when I didn’t have any hope.”

Letby wrote “HATE” in capital letters – and also: “I killed them on purpose because I’m not good enough to care for them and I’m a horrible evil person.”

She insisted it did not mean she had killed them, but that she had “somehow failed in my duties, in my competencies”. In a second reference to Babies O and P, she wrote their names and added “Today is your birthday but you aren’t here. So sorry for that.”

She also wrote: “I’m sorry that you couldn’t have a chance of life, and sorry for the pain that your parents must experience every day. We tried our best and it wasn’t enough. I don’t know if many people will be thinking of you today, or any day, but I will. I will always remember.”

But her unbalanced mind was evident in other scribbled rantings, such as “I’m evil. I did this” – which she later claimed referred to her fears she had blundered at work and unwittingly made mistakes that cost lives.

She admitted the word ‘B******S’ in capitals that she penned referred to two consultants who were suspicious of her.

But she stressed in court she penned the mental ramblings at a time she was “really struggling”.

An A4-size piece of paper containing similarly jumbled scribblings was also found in the diary, boasting the words: “I killed them. I don’t know if I killed them. Maybe I did. Maybe this is down to me.” The words “Kill Me” written in bold and circled could also be seen.

Other words appearing on the A4 paper were “Foreign Objects”, “Slander”, “Tired”, “Crime Number”, “Diagnosis Compromised”, “Risk Factors” and, repeatedly, “Help Me”.

A total of 257 handover sheets were recovered during searches in the investigation, of which 21 included the names of babies she faced trial for harming.

Her diaries showed she regularly attended salsa classes and a gym and had met friends socially for meals and drinks.

She named her closest friends as four nurses and the registrar with whom she frequently shared Facebook messages.

Asked specifically about the registrar, she said he had started working at the unit in 2015 and after “working together” they began meeting socially.

But despite what was implied in her notes, Letby denied to the jury he was more than a friend, saying: “A trusted friend, yes. Sometimes he would come to my house. Sometimes we would go out for a meal or coffee, or walks.” But he left the Countess of Chester Hospital in autumn 2016 and their friendship “fizzled out”.

Lucy Letby was found guilty of murdering seven babies, and the attempted murder of six more as her trial came to an end on August 18, 2023 at Manchester Crown Court.

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