Sewage seeping from sinks and contaminating the hospital could have “contributed” to the deaths of some newborns in the neonatal ward of the Countess of Chester Hospital in Chester, northwest England. This is the defense of Lucy Letby, a 33-year-old nurse accused of murdering seven children she allegedly killed by injecting them with insulin, air or milk. At a hearing in the Letby case, which was also charged with attempted murder of 10 babies, she argued that the intensive care room for newborns was “not a safe working environment”. “In Nursery 1, raw sewage was pouring out of the sinks,” she said as she testified on her eighth day at Manchester Crown Court.
Answering questions about the alleged murder of a six-day-old baby in August 2015, the defendant said it was “an important thing to know that there were frequent plumbing problems” in the room where he was being treated, as The Guardian reported. “If the unit was dirty and staff weren’t able to wash their hands, that’s a contributing factor,” he argued. Letby said plumbers are often called to Nursery 1, the intensive care room for the most vulnerable newborns, to deal with “backflow” from sinks from a separate operating room. “It’s not a safe work environment. I’m not sure what effect it might have on a sick child.”
Letby denies killing seven babies and attempting to kill 10 more babies between June 2015 and June 2016. Prosecutor Nick Johnson KC said regarding the death of six-day-old twin boys, identified as Child E, on August 4, 2015: The baby’s mother saw the nurse who allegedly tried to kill her carry her breast milk into the neonatal unit. The mother told the court that when Letby entered the nursery, where she was alone by the incubator, she heard the baby’s “terrible” screams and saw blood around her mouth. Baby E’s mother stated that Letby told her that the bleeding was the result of a nasogastric tube inserted in the newborn baby, but the defendant denies saying this.
The nurse was sacked after 12 months of service in July 2016, after consultants noticed an alarming coincidence between the death series among newborns and shifts for 33-year-olds. During the trial, investigators also suspected 2,381 searches made by the woman on Facebook between June 2015 and June 2016, most of them involving relatives of deceased newborns. “It was a normal curiosity, I was always calling the friends and parents of the children I looked after, I was on the phone all the time,” she justified herself.
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Karen Clayton is a seasoned journalist and author at The Nation Update, with a focus on world news and current events. She has a background in international relations, which gives her a deep understanding of the political, economic and social factors that shape the global landscape. She writes about a wide range of topics, including conflicts, political upheavals, and economic trends, as well as humanitarian crisis and human rights issues.