Britain’s most prolific child killer of modern times on Monday began the rest of her life behind bars for murdering seven newborn babies and attempting to kill six others in her care.
A judge in Manchester, northwest England, handed nurse Lucy Letby a rare whole-life order — the most severe punishment available and reserved only for those who commit the most heinous crimes — meaning she will never be released.
“The order of the court is a whole-life order on each and every offence and you will spend the rest of your life in prison,” said judge James Goss.
But Letby, 33, sparked outrage from her young victims’ families by refusing to attend the sentencing hearing, prompting pledges from politicians to close the loophole.
Goss said she had acted with “pre-meditation, calculation and cunning” with “malevolence bordering on sadism”, “coldly” denying responsibility for her actions throughout the trial.
Most of her young victims suffered acute pain but she deceived colleagues at the Countess of Chester Hospital about what she had done.
Letby kept medical notes as “morbid records” about what she had done, which were found during police searches of her home after she was arrested.
“You have no remorse,” the judge said. “There are no mitigating factors.”
“You acted in a way that was completely contrary to the normal human instincts of nurturing and caring for babies, and in gross breach of the trust that all citizens place in those who work in the medical and caring professions,” he added.
“Lifelong harm” had been caused to her victims’ families by cutting short young lives “almost as soon as they began”, the judge said.
“Loving parents have been robbed of their cherished children. You have caused deep psychological trauma,” he added.
No motives have emerged for the killings, which took place between June 2015 and June 2016 and have made Letby one of Britain’s most notorious serial killers.
Some 70 criminals are currently serving a whole-life order in the UK.
Only three women have previously been given the sentence: “Moors Murderer” Myra Hindley, who with her boyfriend Ian Brady killed five children in the 1960s, and serial killers Rose West and Joanna Dennehy. Hindley died in 2002.
Harold Shipman, a medical doctor who killed 15 of his patients but is suspected to have murdered as many as 250, was given a whole-life term in 2000.
He killed himself in his cell in 2004.