Suspicious doctor walked in on Lucy Letby 'attempting to murder premature baby'

A doctor who had become suspicious of Lucy Letby walked in on the nurse as she allegedly attempted to kill a premature baby.

The 32-year-old denies seven murder and 10 attempted murder charges against vulnerable infants at the neo-natal ward of Countess of Chester Hospital.

Child K was born after just 25 weeks in February 2016 and weighed less than 700g but was judged by doctors to be in as good a condition as possible in the circumstances. 

The baby girl was checked into the neo-natal ward the defendant was working on while Dr Ravi Jayaram wrote up medical notes and arrangements were made to have her moved to a specialist hospital.

Jurors were told the doctor had started to suspect a link between the spike in babies suffering serious medical episodes and the presence of Ms Letby at the hospital.

He was unable to see into the room where child K was, the court heard, but knew the nurse was alone with the child.

Prosecutor Nick Johnson KC told the jury: ‘Feeling uncomfortable with this because he had started to notice the coincidence between the unexplained deaths, serious collapses and the presence of Lucy Letby, Dr Jayaram decided to check on where Lucy Letby was and how child K was.

‘As he walked into room one, he saw Letby standing over child K’s incubator. 

‘She did not have her hands inside the incubator, but Dr Jayaram could see from the monitor on the wall that child K’s oxygen saturation level was falling dangerously low, to somewhere in the 80s.

‘But the alarm was not sounding as it should have been and Lucy Letby had not called for help, despite child K’s oxygen levels falling.

‘We allege she was trying to kill child K when Dr Jayaram walked in.’

Child K’s chest was not moving and it was found the breathing tube had been dislodged, something the prosecution said is possible in a baby who is moving around but that this patient was inactive and sedated.

The jury heard the breathing monitor in use will activate if readings fall outside normal ranges and should have sounded – but the alarm can be over-ridden for one minute by pressing a pause button, before it reactivates again.

Despite his concerns, Dr Jayaram did not make a note of his suspicions or the incident with the alarm.

Later the same morning, Ms Letby was heard calling for help from Child K’s cot after it was found the breathing tube had slipped too far into her throat, something the prosecution allege was done deliberately. 

The baby died two days later at another hospital and Ms Letby is not accused of her murder.

Citing independent medical evidence that it was ‘very likely’ a deliberate act was to blame, Mr Johnson told jurors her excuse in a police interview that she was waiting to see if the patient ‘self-corrected’ without sounding the alarm ‘didn’t wash’.

The prosecution at Manchester Crown Court has spent two days going through some of the seven murder allegations and 10 attempted murder charges levelled at Ms Letby.

Jurors earlier heard how the nurse sent a sympathy card to the family of one baby she is accused of murdering after three earlier attempts failed.

She denies all the charges. The trial was adjourned until Thursday morning.

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