Trial date set for nurse accused of murdering eight babies at hospital

A nurse accused of murdering eight babies at a hospital neonatal unit has appeared in court today.

A trial date was set for Lucy Letby, 31, who is alleged to have committed the killings at the Countess of Chester Hospital, where she worked.

She is also accused of the attempted murder of five baby boys and five baby girls, all between June 2015 and June 1016.

An investigation was launched in 2017 following the deaths at the hospital’s neonatal unit.

The Chester University graduate, who was once the face of a £3million fundraising campaign, was first arrested the following year and then re-arrested in 2019 and again last November.

Police launched an investigation after the hospital raised concerns at the high number of deaths between March 2015 and July 2016 – which were said to be 10 per cent above average.

An internal inquiry was undertaken when medics found premature babies had died following heart and lung failure.

She appeared via video-link from HMP Peterborough for a hearing at Chester Crown Court on Friday where Mr Justice Dove set a trial date of January 11 2022.

He also ruled the trial will be held in Manchester, either at the city’s main crown court at Crown Square or the venue currently being used for the public inquiry into the Manchester Arena terror attack, at the city’s magistrates’ court building.

The hearing on Friday, lasting 35 minutes, dealt largely with case management and pre-trial issues.

Letby, wearing blue jeans, a black top and shoulder length dark hair, spoke only to confirm her identity.

Ben Myers QC, defending, told the court he will “in due course” be applying for bail for the defendant.

A date for the bail application to be heard has yet to be fixed.

A further case management hearing is scheduled for May 10.

Letby, of Arran Avenue, Hereford, was arrested in 2018 and 2019 as part of the police investigation into the Countess of Chester Hospital, which began in 2017.