Monday 21 August 2023

Letby sentenced to Whole Life Term

Lucy Letby was sentenced on 21 August 2023 to life imprisonment with a whole life order having been convicted on 7 counts of murder. The victims were babies placed under her care as a nurse at the Countess of Chester Hospital. Letby was also convicted on 7 counts of attempted murder. The attempted murder counts related to 6 babies.

Prior to the judge handing down sentence, the court heard personal statements from the parents. 

A redacted version of the sentencing remarks of Mr Justice Goss are available at R -v- Letby - Courts and Tribunals Judiciary

Lucy Letby sentenced to whole-life jail term after murdering seven babies | Lucy Letby | The Guardian


Anonymity orders applied to the babies who, for this reason, were referred to by letters  e.g. Baby A. Their parents and certain others were also granted anonymity.

Lucy Letby trial: why the babies remain anonymous | Lucy Letby | The Guardian


A non-statutory inquiry was announced by government (here). This appears to be inadequate given the number of cases involved, the fact that the deaths occurred over a lengthy period of around 12 months as Letby continued working as a nurse, and the stance of the hospital management when concerns were raised by doctors.

Another matter that might merit investigation is the registration of the deaths and also any involvement of Coroners after the deaths. Coroners, in appropriate cases, come under a duty to investigate deaths - section 1 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.

It is also reported there are several further cases for which prosecutions have not been brought but the facts of those cases might be established by an inquiry.

These considerations appear to merit an inquiry with statutory powers and chaired by a judge. Terms of reference ought to be set to enable the inquiry to probe all aspects of these tragic events.


It is entirely understandable that there is upset and anger at Letby's refusal to attend the sentencing. The government is looking into whether there should be a power for judges to enforce attendance.

It has to be questioned whether such enforcement is a wise course. It is far from unknown for some defendants to behave offensively in court and, at times, their friends and relatives sometimes attend and cause disruption and distress. Also, in very serious cases, a relatively small additional penalty for non-attendance is unlikely to be effective

Many prisoners are subject to release being approved by the Parole Board. The government might consider a requirement that either non-attendance or disruption be noted on the court record and that it has to be taken into account in any later decision of the Board. 

In a case such as Letby's there is no further effective sanction for non-attendance because she must serve the reminder of her life in a prison and cannot be considered for parole.

Corporate Manslaughter:

There are some calls for this to be considered - Letby case: calls for corporate manslaughter investigation (

Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (

An example of such a prosecution is R. v Cornish & Anor [2015] EWHC 2967(QB) (16 October 2015) ( but the case ended at the close of the prosecution case - The-first-prosecution-of-an-NHS-trust-for-corporate-manslaughter_Leonard_OuterTemple.pdf.


1. - Letby was sentenced under the legislation applicable at the time of the offences - the Criminal Justice Act 2003 Schedule 21.

2.- Coroners and Justice Act 2009 section 18 ( and The Notification of Death Regulations 2019  which set out the circumstances in which registered medical practitioners must notify the coroner. 

Prior to the 2019 Regulations there were no statutory criteria for medical practitioners to report deaths to the Coroner. In the words of the Chief Coroner in his 2017/18 annual report, that created ‘uncertainty and inconsistency’

Coronial powers and the rights of the unborn (Part 1) - UK Human Rights Blog


Lessons the NHS needs to learn after Lucy Letby case | Lucy Letby | The Guardian

A Lucy Letby inquiry must answer this: why was she seen as a victim, not a killer? | Gaby Hinsliff | The Guardian

Lucy Letby: Victims' lawyer explains what's next as families prepare to sue | ITV News

Ministers plan to expand whole-life sentences for ‘most horrific’ murderers | UK criminal justice | The Guardian


Should there be a statutory public inquiry into the murders and attempted murders by Lucy Letby? - UK Human Rights Blog

Update 25 September 2023:

Hearing to decide if child killer nurse Lucy Letby will face retrial on six undecided charges | ITV News Granada

Letby will stand trial on one count of attempted murder. The CPS decided not to proceed further with other cases. Lucy Letby to face retrial on charge of trying to murder baby girl, court told | UK news | The Guardian

Update 30 January 2024:

Child serial killer Lucy Letby loses initial attempt to challenge convictions | Lucy Letby | The Guardian

Update 22 April 2024

Lucy Letby: Judges to hear serial killer's conviction appeal - BBC News

No comments:

Post a Comment