Lucy Letby caught after witness haunted by babies’ ’30 minute’ screams
An expert witness helped snare serial killer Lucy Letby after she reviewed the cases of baby deaths and found accounts of premature babies “screaming in pain for 30 minutes”.
Neonatologist and consultant paediatrician Dr Sandie Brohin scoured the evidence of infant mortalities at the Countess of Chester Hospital after she was brought in as a witness for the prosecution in Letby’s trial.
Dr Brohin knew that it was unusual for premature babies, like those on the neonatal ward stalked by Letby, to cry for any long period.
But when looking at accounts from the ward she found reports from nurses of “babies screaming for up to 30 minutes” which she said is “just unheard of”.
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Speaking to the Sunday Times Dr Brohin revealed the heartbreaking accounts of babies in distress could only be the result of “extreme pain” being inflicted upon them.
She said: “Babies will cry if they are in pain, obviously, such as when you take blood or put in a drip.
“That hurts, and there’s no getting away from it. But to have a premature baby screaming is really unusual.
“What was described on the ward was babies screaming for up to 30 minutes. Now that is just unheard of. Somebody had done something to cause those babies extreme pain.”
The doctor added there was an awful moment when the evidence she was confronted with made her realise there was a malevolent force at work in the hospital.
She said looking at an x-ray it showed air inside a baby’s blood vessel, something known as an air embolism.
Dr Brohin continued: “The x-rays were in front of me, several of them, all showing air in the babies’ vessels. That’s when I thought: ‘No, it has to be, and it has to be deliberate.’”
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Letby, 33, was sentenced to a whole-life term for the murder of seven babies and the attempted murders of six more.
Senior doctors at the hospital, where the nurse carried out her year-long killing spree on the neonatal unit, raised concerns for months before she was finally taken off frontline duties.
The hospital saw a significant rise in the number of babies suffering serious and unexpected collapses in 2015 and 2016. Letby’s presence when collapses took place was first mentioned to senior management by the unit’s head consultant in late June 2015.
Concerns among some consultants about Letby increased and were voiced to hospital bosses when more unexplained and unusual collapses followed, her trial at Manchester Crown Court heard.
But Letby was not removed from the unit until after the deaths of two triplet boys and the collapse of another baby boy on three successive days in June 2016.
She was confined to clerical work but registered a grievance procedure, which was resolved in her favour, and was due to return to the unit in March 2017. The move did not take place as soon after police were contacted by the hospital trust.
A “judge-led” inquiry into the killings has now been announced by the government.
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