Saturday, 30 Sep 2023

Mysterious 'code' in Lucy Letby's diary helped police connect her to baby deaths

Police in Cheshire have revealed that a ‘code’ in Lucy Letby’s private diary helped them to link her to the spate of baby deaths at the hospital where she worked.

The neonatal nurse was unmasked as the worst child killer in modern UK history thanks to years of meticulous investigation and analysis by officers.

Now, the details of Operation Nightingale – which led to Letby’s conviction at Manchester Crown Court last week – have been released in a documentary posted on Cheshire Police’s Youtube channel.

Among the revelations in the hour-long film is the importance of the killer’s diary, which was discovered at her home in Hereford.

Detective Inspector Rob Woods said the sheer amount of notes found piled in her room was a ‘massive surprise’ to the force – and they proved to be invaluable in giving them a ‘really good steer’.

He added: ‘There appeared to be, and it became clear later that it was, almost a code of coloured asterisks and various other things put in her diary that marked significant events in our investigation.

‘So when we went to search the address for the second occasion, that was something that we knew we were looking for because we didn’t have the complete chronology.’

The detective said many of the investigators had expected the ‘copious writer of notes’ to stop after her first arrest.

However, he said: ‘It turned out, when we searched that second address, she had continued to write her thoughts and all sorts of processes about the investigation, about the events she was being investigated for.

‘We seized quite a lot of material in that second search.’

Detective Superintendent Paul Hughes, a senior investigating officer at Cheshire Police, said: ‘We knew that she would write a lot and she did, we’d seen it during the first arrest, so we wanted to arrest her and see what she’d been writing about in the year that we’d been investigating.’

The documentary includes clips of officers describing how they felt at different stages of the operation.

Claire Hocknell, an intelligence analyst at the force, said: ‘With this investigation, your subconscious is constantly searching for a reason for it not to be her.

‘You go months just methodically working through, overlaying, creating sequences, and then you read something, and it winds you a bit.

‘You think, gosh, she really has done this, and you have to separate yourself out from how you feel about it.

‘You’ve got to do the work, you’ve got to give it justice as to what’s happened. You have got to remain impartial, and that’s how I’ve managed to continue for the six years that I’ve been working on it.’

The trial came to an end on August 18, with Letby being found guilty of murdering seven babies and attempting to kill six more.

She was given a whole-life tariff at a sentencing hearing that she refused to attend.

An independent inquiry was announced by the government not long afterwards, and there have been calls to give it statutory powers so those in charge can compel witnesses to attend.

On Tuesday, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said such a move was ‘on the table’.

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