UK

A nurse accused of murdering seven babies tried to murder another infant within two hours of her birth, a court has heard.

Lucy Letby denies the murder charges along with the attempted murder of 10 babies between June 2015 and June 2016.

The 33-year-old defendant deliberately dislodged the girl’s breathing tube just moments before a consultant walked into the nursery room, her trial at Manchester Crown Court was told.

It heard the infant, known as Child K, was brought into the neo-natal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital because of her extreme prematurity.

The hospital would not usually care for babies of 25 weeks gestation, but Wirral’s Arrowe Park was full, so transport to the specialist hospital had to wait until a bed became available.

The girl had been born at 2.12am in February 2016 and Letby was working on a night shift in the neo-natal unit at the Countess of Chester when she allegedly carried out the attack.

Letby, originally from Hereford, struck as Child K’s designated nurse left nursery room one to go to the labour ward, prosecutors said.

More on Lucy Letby

Nick Johnson KC, for The Crown, told jurors: “It is alleged Lucy Letby interfered with the endotracheal (ET) tube and Dr Ravi Jayaram walked into the immediate aftermath of that.”

Dr Jayaram noted that at 3.50am there was a “sudden deterioration” in Child K’s condition as her blood oxygen levels fell to 40%.

The breathing tube was then removed and her oxygen rate “recovered pretty quickly” after she received rescue breaths via a facemask, the trial was told.

A new endotracheal tube was put in and an X-ray taken at 6.07am showed it was in a “satisfactory position”, the court heard.

Eight minutes later, Dr Jayaram saw the child’s oxygen levels had dropped again and the tube had to be adjusted.

It was withdrawn again when Dr Jayaram noted at 7.25am it had “slipped” 8cm at the lips.

The infant was moved from the Countess of Chester later that day and arrived at Arrowe Park at 1.15pm. The youngster died there three days later, the court was told.

Child K’s cause of death was certified as severe respiratory distress and extreme prematurity.

Mr Johnson told jurors: “We are not alleging what Lucy Letby did actually caused her death.”

In his opening address last October, Ben Myers KC, defending, said the “probable cause” for the 3.50am tube dislodgement was the child inadvertently moving it herself.

Her case was another example of “sub-optimal care” at the Countess of Chester in that she should have been treated at a more specialist unit, he added.

The trial continues.

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