A UK nurse has today been rearrested on suspicion of murdering eight babies and attempting to kill nine others.
The nurse had previously been questioned by detectives for two days as officers searched her Chester home but was released pending further inquiries.
Police confirmed the nurse was originally arrested in 2018 and 2019 on suspicion of murder in relation to the deaths of eight babies and the attempted murder of six others.
She has now been rearrested over the deaths of the eight tots as well as the attempted murder of three further babies – bringing the total to nine.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Hughes, who is in charge of the investigation, said today: “It has been more than three years since we first launched an investigation into a number of baby deaths and non-fatal collapses at the neonatal unit at The Countess of Chester Hospital.
“In that time a dedicated team of detectives have been working extremely hard on this highly complex and very sensitive case doing everything they can as quickly as they can to identify what has led to these baby deaths and collapses.
“In July 2018, a healthcare professional was arrested on suspicion of murder in relation to the deaths of eight babies and the attempted murder of six babies at the neonatal unit at The Countess of Chester Hospital. She was subsequently bailed pending further inquiries.
“In June 2019, the healthcare professional was rearrested on suspicion of murder in relation to the deaths of eight babies and the attempted murder of six babies. She was also arrested in connection with the attempted murder of three additional babies.
“Today, as part of our ongoing inquiries, the healthcare professional has been rearrested on suspicion of murder in relation to the deaths of eight babies and the attempted murder of nine babies.
“The woman is currently in custody helping officers with their inquiries.”
Police confirmed the parents of the babies have been kept updated on the development and are being supported by specially trained officers.
“This is an extremely difficult time for all the families and it is important to remember that, at he heart of this, there are a number of bereaved families seeking answers as to what happened to their children,” DCI Hughes said.
Her first arrest came three years after doctors first raised concerns about a “higher than usual number of neonatal deaths” in June 2015.
After failing to identify the cause of the deaths, hospital bosses called in specialist investigators from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) in June 2016 – a full year after the first concerns were raised.
Within a month, the hospital’s neonatal unit was banned from giving tots intensive care by being downgraded from a Local Neonatal Unit to a Special Care Unit – the lowest possible grade.
The damning inspectors’ report – published in November 2016 – slammed the hospital’s “arms-length” bosses and unsafe staffing levels.
In a 2013 interview with the Chester and District Standard, Ms Letby said she cared for babies requiring various levels of support.
She had worked at the unit as a student nurse during three years of training before qualifying as a children’s nurse at the University of Chester in 2011.
Ms Letby said she started working at the unit after graduating.
At the time of her arrest, a friend described her as a “professional nurse” who was dedicated to her “dream job”.
The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Lucy was doing the job she dreamt of doing and appeared nothing but dedicated and professional.
“You can’t imagine her hurting a fly let alone defenceless babies.”
“Our clients have been awaiting over three years to get some answers. While we respect the police investigation and their diligence we would very much like our clients to get justice in this case,” Emma Doughty, Clinical Negligence specialist at Slater and Gordon said.
“Not only have the lost their babies but they have then had to deal with numerous investigations, and then subsequent arrests, all the while not knowing what really happened to their babies. This is a truly heartbreaking situation they find themselves in.
“We are supporting our clients through this difficult and challenging time and welcome any update to the police investigation.”
This article originally appeared in The Sun and was reproduced with permission