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Lucy Letby, a nurse in the United Kingdom, has received the maximum possible sentence - a whole life order in prison without the possibility of parole - for the shocking murders of multiple vulnerable newborn babies under her care at the Countess of Chester Hospital between 2015-2016.
On Monday, Judge James Goss handed down this rare sentence to Ms. Letby, now 33, following her conviction last week on charges related to killing 7 infants and attempting to kill 10 others while working in the hospital's neonatal unit. She is only the fourth woman in the UK to receive a whole life prison term, which is reserved for the most egregious crimes.
Judge Goss told the courtroom that Ms. Letby "acted completely contrary to the normal human instincts of nurturing and caring for babies" and caused immeasurable suffering to her young victims and their families. He described her actions as showing "a deep malevolence bordering on sadism" in the way she fatally poisoned and injected helpless one-day-old babies and deceived their trusting parents.
Harrowing victim impact statements were read by grieving parents at the sentencing hearing, which Ms. Letby refused to attend. The mother of a baby boy murdered by Letby said, "There is no sentence that will ever compare to the excruciating agony that we have suffered as a consequence of your actions." The father of twins, one of whom Letby killed, said that even after the trial, her crimes will "continue to haunt us and will always have an impact on our lives."
Over the course of the 10-month trial, harrowing details emerged of how Ms. Letby secretly and repeatedly murdered and harmed premature babies in her care, abusing her position as a nurse. The youngest victim was just a day old when Letby administered a fatal dose of air into the child's stomach through a nasogastric tube. She used insulin poisoning, injections of air into bloodstreams, and other heinous methods to kill and harm even the most fragile babies, some born prematurely weighing only 2 pounds.
Prosecutors described a pattern of sinister and calculated attacks when Letby was alone with infants, often during night shifts when there was less supervision and activity in the neonatal unit. She would then play the role of the grief-stricken nurse to distraught parents after intentionally bringing about the sudden demise of their child.
Some babies not killed by Letby nonetheless sustained lifelong disabilities as a result of her harmful assaults. The judge commented on the "catastrophic effect" she has had on so many families, robbing them of beloved children and inflicting trauma that will last forever.
In all, Lucy Letby was convicted of murdering 7 babies and attempting to kill 10 more between June 2015 and June 2016 at the Countess of Chester Hospital in northwest England. The trial exposed negligent oversight and dismissal of early warnings by hospital administrators, allowing Letby's killing spree to go undetected for so long. An independent public inquiry has been commissioned to investigate how she was able to evade capture for over a year, during which distraught parents were wrongly led to believe their babies had died of natural causes.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and other senior officials expressed dismay over Letby's horrendous crimes against defenseless children and their families. Her refusal to face her victims at the sentencing hearing was called "the final act of a coward" by one mother. The government is now reviewing the law to make it mandatory for convicted criminals like Letby to attend court for their sentencing.
The motivation behind Letby's unconscionable attacks on premature infants under her care remains a mystery. The judge commented that her offenses seemed to be borne out of a "malevolence bordering on sadism" rather than any comprehensible human impulse. Regardless of her motives, the deep anguish she has inflicted through such inhuman acts will forever mar the UK's national health system and leave indelible scars for those affected.
The country was shocked that a healthcare professional could so egregiously violate her Hippocratic oath and single-mindedly endanger the most helpless members of society for her own pathological purposes. The lifelong sentences without parole handed down reflect the severity of her crimes and the need to protect society from such an individual ever having the opportunity to prey on innocents again.
While justice has now been served, tragically nothing can undo the damage done or bring back those precious lives cut short. The whole-life prison term for Lucy Letby will be little solace to grieving parents who now must go through life marking the birthdays, holidays, and milestones of children cruelly taken from their loving embrace. Yet perhaps the sentencing can provide some closure and prevent this remorseless killer from haunting their lives and memories forever. The steps now being taken to reform NHS oversight procedures offer hope that such heinous violations of public trust will be detected and stopped much earlier in the future.
Summarised from original article by: nytimes.com
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