“He will spend the rest of his life in prison.” This is the fate of 33-year-old Lucy Letby, in the words pronounced today by Judge James Goss at the end of a long sentence in which she recalled the crimes committed by the most heinous serial killer of children in recent British history.
But the life sentence without the possibility of parole handed down to the English nurse who killed seven newborn babies and attempted to murder six others while working in the maternity ward of the Countess of Chester Hospital between 2015 and 2016 did not end the controversy around this story. Starting from the reading of the sentence, which took place in the absence of the culprit, that she preferred to exploit her right, that of remaining in the cell of Manchester Crown Court, unleashing the anger of the parents of the victims already on the verge of suffering. Then, addressing an empty chair, Judge Goss on live video spoke of “premeditation, calculation and wickedness”, almost recognizing sadism in Letby’s actions, which had an “immense impact” on many families. The fathers and mothers in the hall heard him, some in tears. In describing the cases of newborns that ended up in Letby’s hands one by one, the lethal methods used against them were recalled: the nurse was especially furious with premature babies and during the night shift she injected air into her little victims, overfed them with milk or poisoned them with insulin. For the judge, Letby even felt a “detached enthusiasm” when the resuscitation of the children she targeted without the knowledge of her colleagues was attempted: a behavior that goes “against the normal human instincts to feed and take care” of the little ones. And again, “he showed no remorse and there are no extenuating circumstances”, and continued to deny his crimes. Harsh words that did not appease the indignation for the condemned woman’s failure to appear in court. Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has even intervened accusing of “cowardice” those guilty of such heinous crimes who do not confront their victims. The parents of the killed children did not hold back their anger in their statements: for one mother it was Letby’s “last act of wickedness”, another wished the nurse a very long life to spend every day suffering as much as Done. And there is already talk of a possible modification of the law to oblige the guilty to personally face the reading of the sentence in court and above all the words spoken against them by the families of the victims. The trial, which lasted ten months, with the Manchester Crown Court jury taking 22 days to reach the guilty verdict, ended with a series of questions still open. Hopefully some will be answered by the independent investigation announced by the government to understand why in the English public hospital where the nurse worked from 2012 to 2016, her criminal activity was not stopped after the first suspicious deaths that occurred in the maternity ward. It still remains to be clarified how many newborns actually ended up in the clutches of Letby. In fact, the police have identified around 30 children who suffered “suspicious” accidents at the Countess of Chester while also investigating those born in the Liverpool women’s hospital, where the nurse had done a traineeship. The detectives are analyzing the files clinics for about 4,000 babies who were born in the maternity wards of the two centers between 2012 and 2015. The seriousness of the legal case was also underlined by the intervention of the Crown Prosecution Service, according to which the former nurse “will never again be able to inflict suffering.” Letby is the fourth woman in England and Wales to receive such a harsh prison sentence.