Killer nurse created 'crisis situations' to attract married colleague
The married registrar who ‘had an affair’ with Lucy Letby: Killer nurse was so infatuated with doctor that she attacked and murdered babies knowing he’d be the one to come and help
- Letby would exchange messages with the older doctor for hours at a time
Lucy Letby was suspected of having a secret affair with a married doctor who became her ‘best friend’ while she was murdering babies at work.
The nurse and the medic went on day trips to London, met up for walks and meals together in their free time away from the hospital, and swapped hundreds of messages on Facebook, often late into the night.
Letby insisted they were ‘nothing more’ than ‘trusted’ friends and denied being ‘in love’ with the doctor, who applied for anonymity at the start of the trial and cannot be identified for legal reasons.
But she called him ‘sweetie’ in messages and broke down in tears and tried to leave the dock when the father-of-two betrayed her by coming to court to give evidence against her.
Letby admitted he had visited her home, where she lived alone, and the content of many messages, simply described as ‘of a social nature,’ that were recovered by police from her mobile phone and exchanged between the pair, often for hours at a time, were not shown to the jury.
The doctor told Letby she was ‘one of a few nurses I would trust with my own children and, even after her eventual removal from the unit. he spent a weekend in London with her and joined her on numerous trips around Cheshire.
He once sent her the message: ‘If you’ve any doubt about how good you are at your job – stop now’.
Lucy was suspected of having a secret affair with a married doctor (right) who became her ‘best friend’ while she was murdering babies at work
A note where Letby appeared to declare her love for her married colleague
Texts between Letby and the unnamed doctor were read out in court. They appeared to show the doctor comforting the killer nurse as she feigned upset after the death of one of her victims
And in another exchange over WhatsApp, Letby appeared to chat about her blossoming friendship with the doctor – who prosecutors said she had tried to impress by creating ‘crisis situations’ where they could work alongside each other to save the babies she had poisoned
He only joined the unit in the autumn of 2015, but they quickly became friends. He would go to her home or else they’d meet for meals and coffees. Sometimes they’d go for walks or visit the Cheshire Oaks designer outlet.
The relationship between the paediatric registrar and the nurse he so admired was an uncomfortable – and on one occasion ridiculous – thread that ran through the entire nine-month trial.
Prosecutor Nick Johnson KC repeatedly referred to him as Letby’s ‘boyfriend’ and during one particularly testy exchange during her cross-examination she appeared to concede that was the case.
Mr Johnson suggested she was so infatuated with him that – in at least four of the cases – she attacked and murdered babies knowing the medic would be the one crash bleeped to come and help.
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She created the ‘crisis situations’ because she wanted to get his attention, to work with him so they could try to save the babies together, Mr Johnson said. It also gave her something to talk to the older doctor, who is 17 years her senior, about afterwards.
The unsuspecting medic even provided a shoulder for Letby to cry on and comforted her, telling her what a good nurse she was when she feigned upset after murdering two brothers – identical triplets – on consecutive shifts, in June 2016.
Their closeness was certainly noticed by colleagues at the hospital and Letby’s friends teased her about their ‘flirty’ relationship.
In one text message, she protested: ‘I don’t flirt with him! Certainly, don’t fancy him ha ha just a nice guy.’
But on notes discovered at her home Letby had written his name repeatedly next to doodles of love hearts and other phrases, including: ‘My best friend…LOVE…I loved you and I think you knew that…I wanted you to stand by me but you didn’t.’
Now a consultant at a different hospital elsewhere in the country, the doctor and Letby regularly exchanged messages when they were both on duty in different parts of the Countess of Chester Hospital.
Letby also made references to his wife of 25 years, and their teenage children, in conversations and searched for his spouse multiple times on Facebook.
On the first day, the doctor gave evidence he chose to do so from behind a screen. Letby appeared to have no idea this was about to happen, and his decision sent her into an emotional spiral, rushing tearfully towards the side door of the glass-panelled dock.
The trial heard that the medic began messaging Letby regularly via Facebook after asking her for a ‘favour’ on June 2 2016.
It prompted Letby to Whatsapp one of her close nursing friends while she was working a night shift that same evening – just hours before she attacked and tried to kill her 13th victim, a premature baby with haemophilia, known as Baby N.
She wrote: ‘Had strange message from (doctor) earlier.’
Her friend replied jokingly: ‘Did u? Saying what? Go commando? ‘
The nurse and her medic ‘boyfriend’ went on day trips to London, met up for walks and meals together in their free time away from the hospital. Letby is pictured in a court sketch
The unsuspecting doctor gave Letby (pictured) a shoulder to cry on when she feigned upset after murdering two brothers – identical triplets – on consecutive shifts, in June 2016
Letby said: ‘Asking when I was working next week as wants to talk to me about something, has a favour to ask..?’
Her friend added: ‘Think he likes u too. Hmm did u not ask what it was?
Letby said: ‘No just said when I was working and he said wants my opinion on something. Hmm… Do you think he’s being odd?’
Her friend replied: ‘Thought as flirty as u.’
Letby said: ‘Shut up! I don’t flirt with him! Certainly don’t fancy him haha just nice guy.’
She later claimed in cross-examination that she didn’t know what ‘go commando,’ a phrase used to refer to wearing no underwear, meant.
In other messages sent on another shift two weeks later, after Letby tried to murder the same baby twice more on the same day, the pair discussed her upcoming annual leave and holidays in Cockington, Devon.
The nurse described him as a ‘sweetie’ when he bought her chocolate to cheer her up and offered her his car so she didn’t have to walk home from work after the stressful shift, during which Baby N nearly died and had to be transferred to a specialist hospital, in Liverpool.
In one message, sent two and a half hours after the second alleged attack on Baby N, Letby told the doctor about the baby’s problems, before adding: ‘Sat having a quiet moment and want to cry.’
Police seized a number of handwritten notes made by Letby after she was arrested, including this one where she has circled the word ‘hate’
Letby used to create ‘crisis situations’ so she could spend time with the doctor. Pictured is the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neonatal unit where Letby went on a killing spree
He replied: ‘Oh Lucy, poor little thing and you…Are you ok?
‘Have a cry, you’ll feel better for it I’m sure.
‘You’re welcome to take my car home if you’re too tired to walk. I’ll sort out picking it up in the morning.
‘So sorry you’ve had a rubbish day.’
He asked Letby about a holiday she was due to go on to Devon with her parents the following month, adding: ‘I haven’t been back to Torbay for a few years – must be nearly three. I’m always surprised by how little it changes when I go back. Happy memories (smiley face emoji).
‘I used to love Cockington in the summer – it always looked so pretty when the flowers were out (flowers emoji).’
Letby replied: ‘Cockington is gorgeous!! We always go there for afternoon tea. Dad was offered a job in Paignton many moons ago, it could have been a very different childhood growing up by the sea. Looking forward to going back.
Letby’s (pictured) had denied killing seven babies and attempting to murder 10 others while serving as a neonatal nurse at the Countess of Chester Hospital
‘You are a sweetie. Thank you.’
She also thanked him for some chocolate he had left for her, which the medic said was ‘well deserved.’
‘Chocolate makes the bad days a little better,’ he said. ‘Hope you like it (smiley face emoji).’
The two of them had been undoubtedly close. So close professionally that when Dr A was trying desperately to save Baby O she was at his side. What he didn’t know was that she had already sabotaged the baby, so all his efforts would be in vain.
At one point in the trial Nick Johnson KC, prosecuting, suggested the nightmare scenario that Letby carried out some of her later attacks specifically to bring Dr A onto the unit – just she could work alongside him.
He was soon called to help when Baby O collapsed and, although the messages stopped as the crisis unfolded, the pair continued their Facebook conversation later on that evening, after Baby O died. The messages went back and forth over several hours, with Letby asking when he would next be back on the neo-natal unit, until they said goodnight at 1.30am.
He was also working when the second triplet, Baby P, was murdered the following day – after which he offered her a lift because she knew he had fainted.
During a text exchange with a friend, Letby denied she and the male doctor were flirting. Letby is pictured pulling a face on a night out
Court artist sketch of Letby sobbing. She denied murdering seven babies and attempting to murder 10 others in the neonatal unit of the Countess of Chester Hospital between June 2015 and June 2016
Letby was the nurse allocated to look after Baby P on the day of his death and, following his collapse, on the morning of June 24, another registrar Dr Tony Ukoh gave evidence that one of the nurses – he couldn’t remember exactly which one – specifically asked if the unnamed doctor could attend to help as well.
He was duly bleeped and arrived soon afterwards. Letby and the doctor, plus other colleagues, spent the day giving Baby P repeated CPR as his condition deteriorated before he passed away that afternoon.
‘Did you enjoy being in these crisis situations with (unnamed doctor)?’ Mr Johnson asked Letby.
‘No,’ she replied.
Mr Johnson said: ‘Did it give you something to talk to him about and message him about?’
‘No, he was a friend,’ she said.
‘Something in common you could share?’ the barrister probed.
‘No,’ Letby insisted.
In another note, Letby had scribbled a jumble of words, with phrases like ‘love’, ‘I can’t do this anymore’ and ‘help me’ written on it
And in one particularly chilling correspondence, Letby wrote a sympathy letter to the family of one of the children she had murdered
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Letby at the start of the cross examination by barrister is Nicholas Johnson KC, during her murder trial at Manchester Crown Court
Unlike his consultant colleagues, Letby’s doctor friend was not suspicious of her and told her he thought they had worked well together to try and save the triplets.
He remained loyal even after the brothers’ deaths, sharing confidential details of a debrief between doctors and hospital executives when she was moved off the unit – and urged her not to worry because she had done her job ‘perfectly.’
‘You are one of a few nurses across the region (I’ve worked pretty much everywhere) that I would trust with my own children,’ he wrote. He even offered to write her a ‘statement’ if anyone suggested the care she had provided was ‘not good enough’ or inadequate, such was his faith in her.
The doctor was such a ‘trusted’ friend of Letby that even after her eventual removal from the unit he spent a weekend in London with her and joined her on numerous trips around Cheshire.
They met up several times over the following 12 months, including five times in May and June 2017, when they visited Hartford, a small town around 16 miles outside Chester and the Cheshire Oaks shopping centre, in nearby Ellesmere Port
They also met for a meal at Hickory’s, an American-themed restaurant by the River Dee in Chester and at Starbucks, before visiting the capital.
Letby insisted they never stayed overnight together in London and that a second trip, planned for September was cancelled because the doctor had a medical appointment to attend.
Killer nurse Letby would often pull funny faces for photos while out with friends. Two of her murders took place shortly after returning from a week-long holiday to Ibiza
Oblivious to the sadism she was hiding ‘in plain sight’, the doctor gave Letby emotional support just as the net was finally closing in on her. He told her he was ‘proud’ of the care she had given both O and P and assured her there was ‘absolutely nothing for you to worry about’.
He then told her the detail of a review carried out into the triplets’ deaths on July 5 – not knowing that years later the entire conversation would be played out in a courtroom.
‘You need to keep this to yourself,’ he told her in the early hours of the following morning. ‘We reviewed everything. Room/meds/medical reviews and actions. We looked at all documentation med & nur’.
At 12.58am he sent the message: ‘If you’ve any doubt about how good you are at your job – stop now’.
Over the next few minutes he told her that her documentation had been ‘perfect:’ and that ‘everybody commented about the appropriateness of your request for a review of Baby O’.
Another element of the documentation had been ‘faultless’ and there was ‘absolutely nothing for you to worry about’.
Eventually, the doctor turned his back on Letby and she told the court their friendship ‘fizzled out’ at the beginning of 2018, around six months before her first arrest.
Letby’s interrogation on her understanding of the phrase ‘go commando’
By Nigel Bunyan
For all the undeniable gravity of the Lucy Letby trial, there were occasional flashes of humour and levity to ease participants into the next harrowing episode.
The killer herself provoked guffaws of laughter when she claimed to have no idea what was meant by the expression ‘go commando’.
Try as he might, the lead prosecutor, Nick Johnson KC, could not persuade her to admit that she might just have an inkling of what it referred to.
The expression came up as a topic during a discussion of Letby’s ‘flirty’ relationship with Dr A, a married registrar on the unit.
She had just told her best friend, a fellow neonatal nurse, that the doctor had sent her a ‘strange’ message.
The friend asked what it was, then playfully suggested: ‘Go commando?’
But in the cross-examination that followed, she refused point blank to admit it.
An amused Mr Johnson pressed her repeatedly, asking ‘Is it a Royal Marines?’ and ‘Do you think it’s an Army reference, you being from Hereford’.
‘No,’ said Letby.
Further on in the WhatsApp conversation the friend wondered whether Dr A was being ‘as flirty as u’.
Seemingly amused, Letby reacted by sending: ‘Shut up!’. She then wrote: ‘I don’t flirt with him… certainly don’t fancy him haha just nice guy’.
Mr Johnson was smiling broadly as he asked: ‘Are you still saying you don’t know what going commando means?’
‘Yes,’ said Letby, deadpan.
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