Lucy Letby cried as she described in court the “sickening” moment she was accused of murdering several babies, saying: “My whole world just stopped.”
The nurse denied harming any children and said she was “devastated” at being accused of murdering seven babies and attempting to kill 10 others.
Giving evidence on Tuesday for the first time in her eight-month trial at Manchester crown court, Letby, 33, said she “only ever did my best to care for them”.
Several rows behind Letby, her parents, John, 76, and Susan, 62, looked on, as did family members of the alleged victims on the other side of the public gallery.
Asked by her defence barrister, Benjamin Myers KC, whether she had ever harmed a child in her care, she replied: “No, that’s completely against everything that being a nurse is about.”
Letby was flanked by two female security officers as she gave evidence.
She was asked about the moment she was told she was suspected of murdering babies on the neo-natal unit at the Countess of Chester hospital, where she had worked since January 2012.
“It was sickening. I just couldn’t believe it,” Letby said.
Asked how it made her feel, she paused and become emotional, then said: “It was devastating. I don’t think you can be accused of anything worse than that. It was just … yeah – devastating.”
Myers then asked what impact the allegations had on her mental health. She replied: “I just changed as a person. My mental health deteriorated. I felt very isolated from my friends and family on the unit.”
Letby went on to say she considered killing herself “because of what was being inferred” when she was removed from the neo-natal unit in 2016.
The jury has been told Letby was removed from the unit when consultants raised concerns about her “common link” with a number of baby deaths and near-deaths between June 2015 and June 2016.
Letby, crying, told the jury: “My job was my life. I can’t put into words, it’s just – my whole world just stopped.”
Asked whether she was the same person as she was in 2015 and 2016, she replied: “No, I think it’s completely changed everything about me, about my life, about the hopes I had for the future. Everything is just gone.”
Letby said she had been remanded in four different prisons since her third and final arrest in 2020.
She described her arrests as “traumatising”, saying she was led to a police station in her pyjamas after her first arrest at her home in Chester in July 2018.
“It was just the most, the scariest thing I’ve ever been through,” the nurse said. “It not only happened once, it happened twice and then a third time. It’s just traumatising.”
The nurse, originally from Hereford, said she had been diagnosed with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder and needed medication to help her sleep.
Letby said she had become “very sensitive to any noise” and “any unexpected change in people” since her arrests, adding: “I’m easily startled, easily frightened of new things.”
The case continues.