Lucy Letby jury told to disregard preconceived views

Jurors in the retrial of Lucy Letby have been reminded by a judge they “must not approach the case with any preconceived views”.

The 34-year-old is accused of the attempted murder of a premature child, referred to as Baby K, while working at Countess of Chester Hospital on 17 February 2016.

Prosecutors allege Letby deliberately dislodged the infant’s breathing tube, but the former nurse said she did nothing to harm him.

Summing up the case, Mr Justice Goss told jurors at Manchester Crown Court they must judge the case in a “fair, calm, objective and analytical way”.

The jury was previously told Letby was convicted last August of the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of six others at the hospital between June 2015 and June 2016.

But a verdict on the allegation concerning Baby K could not be reached and a retrial was ordered on that single count.

The prosecution claim Letby tampered with the infant’s breathing tube and and was “caught virtually red-handed” by consultant paediatrician Dr Ravi Jayaram, when he walked into the neo-natal unit’s intensive care nursery room.

From the witness box, Letby told the court she did not recall being in the nursery at any time during the shift and has maintained her innocence.

Mr Justice Goss said: “You decide the case on, and only on, all the evidence placed before you. There will be no more and you must not speculate about what other evidence there might have been.

“As I said at the very beginning of the trial, you must not approach the case with any preconceived views and you must cast out of your decision-making process any response or approach to the case based on emotion or any feelings of sympathy or antipathy you may have.”

The judge continued: “You must cast out of your decision-making process any response or approach to the case based on emotion or any feelings of sympathy or antipathy you may have.

“It is instinctive for anyone to react with horror to any allegation of deliberately harming a child, the more so a vulnerable, very premature baby.”

He told jurors they would “naturally feel sympathy” for Baby K’s parents, but must use “common sense an collective good judgement” as they assess the evidence.

The judge, giving legal directions to the jury, said Letby’s convictions for murder and attempted murder “does not prove that she has committed this offence on this occasion”.

He added: “Her previous convictions may only be used as some support for the prosecution case if, having assessed the evidence, you are satisfied that it is right so to do.”

Baby K was transferred to a specialist hospital later on 17 February because of her extreme prematurity.

She died there three days later, although the prosecution does not allege Letby caused her death.

Letby became tearful in the dock as her barrister Ben Myers gave his own summing up.

He urged the jury not to use the defendant’s previous convictions to “beef up a fundamentally weak case”.

He said: “Miss Clancy [junior counsel] and I are here to defend Lucy Letby and that is what we will do.

“Standing up for her when no-one else is going to do that.

“For this to be a fair trial and for there to be a fair outcome on the evidence, that comes comes down to you ladies and gentlemen.

“It is you who decides. We say the medical evidence and general circumstances to this allegation do not get us close to be sure of Lucy Letby’s guilt.”

The trial continues.

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