A former neonatal nurse who was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of seven babies in her care and trying to kill six others at a U.K. hospital will face a retrial on a charge of attempting to murder a newborn baby girl, prosecutors said Monday.
Lucy Letby, 33, was sentenced last month to life behind bars with no chance of release after a jury convicted her of murdering seven babies in the neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital in northwest England between 2015 and 2016. She was also convicted of trying to murder six other infants.
However, the jury of seven women and four men in her 10-month trial was not able to reach verdicts on six counts of attempted murder in relation to five other newborns. Letby had faced two counts of attempted murder against one of the newborns.
The Crown Prosecution Service said Monday it wanted to pursue a retrial on one of those outstanding charges, which involved a baby girl known only as Child K in February 2016.
Letby attended Monday’s hearing by video from prison, and spoke only to confirm her name.
A provisional trial date was set for June 10, 2024.
Letby was handed the most severe punishment possible under British law, which does not allow the death penalty. A judge said she acted with “malevolence bordering sadism.” Only three other women have received such a harsh sentence in the U.K.
The former nurse was accused of deliberately harming the babies in various ways, including by injecting air into their bloodstreams and administering air or milk into their stomachs via nasogastric tubes. She was also accused of poisoning infants by adding insulin to intravenous feeds and interfering with breathing tubes.
The victims were given anonymity and listed only by letters.
Britain’s government launched an independent inquiry soon after the verdicts that will look into the wider circumstances around what happened at the hospital, including the handling of complaints raised by staff who had tried to sound the alarm on Letby.
Prosecutors confirmed they wished to pursue the single count involving Child K but not the other five counts of attempted murder. “These decisions on whether to seek retrials on the remaining counts of attempted murder were extremely complex and difficult,” Jonathan Storer, a senior prosecutor in northern England, said in a statement.
Lawyers representing the other families described the decision not to seek further retrials as disappointing.
“We believe that the families of the further alleged victims still have questions that are unanswered and they deserve to know what happened to their children,” said lawyer Tamlin Bolton from the law firm Switalskis.
Sylvia Hui, The Associated Press