She's Guilty of Killing 7 Newborns. Or Is She?

'New Yorker' casts doubt on the guilt of UK nurse Lucy Letby
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2024 10:00 AM CDT
Her Conviction for Killing 7 Babies Isn't as Solid as You Think
This undated photo issued by Cheshire Constabulary shows former nurse Lucy Letby.   (Cheshire Constabulary via AP)

Lucy Letby might be the most reviled person in all of the UK. The former nurse was convicted last year of murdering seven newborns and trying to kill six more. She is, in the eyes of the British press, evil personified. Now Rachel Aviv takes an in-depth look at the case for the New Yorker and declares: Not so fast. Her 13,000-word piece raises serious questions about the evidence and Letby's guilt. Of those seven newborns who died under Letby's watch in a neonatal unit, six were premature and three weighed less than 3 pounds, notes Aviv. "No one ever saw Letby harming a child, and the coroner did not find foul play in any of the deaths," she writes. Prosecutors instead relied heavily on a diagram charting 24 "suspicious events" alongside nurses' schedules, and Letby (who's appealing her conviction) was the only one who synced perfectly.

Aviv draws a parallel to the faulty statistical analysis that led to the wrongful murder conviction in 1999 of a woman named Sally Clark in the deaths of her two infant sons. Much was made during Letby's case of notes found in her residence in which she referred to herself as evil and wrote seeming confessions such as, "I killed them on purpose." The story provides the larger context of Letby telling investigators, "That's how I was being made to feel." She states flatly that she didn't kill the babies on purpose, but "if my practice hadn't been good enough and I was linked with these deaths, then it was my fault." Aviv lays out how Letby was an overworked nurse in an underfunded and understaffed system, suggesting the possibility that the deaths might instead be chalked up to a combination of factors including bad luck. Read the full story. (Or read other Longform recaps.)

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