Lucy Letby has shocked the world. Few people can believe that anyone would murder seven innocent babies. The biggest question on many people’s minds is: why did she do it? Her motive remains unknown, but some experts have weighed in with their answers.
The 33-year-old nurse murdered seven babies, five boys, and two girls, at the neonatal unit of Countess of Chester Hospital in northern England over 13 months beginning in 2013. She injected them with insulin, air, or force-fed them milk to end their lives.
Letby was found guilty last week of seven counts of murder and seven counts of attempted murder. The jury could not agree on whether she tried to kill other babies and acquitted her of two other attempted murder charges.
Why Did She Do It?
Prosecutor Nick Johnson KC said Letby was a ‘calculated opportunist’. She played on the vulnerabilities of sick and premature babies and claimed they died of natural causes. Her seemingly normal behavior made her colleagues believe the babies’ deaths were normal.
Johnson also theorized that Letby was ‘playing God’. He noted that she was controlling things and enjoyed knowing what was going to happen.
She Was in Love with a Doctor
Letby’s motives may be related to her infatuation with a married doctor at the hospital. Some claimed that she would call him in when the babies’ health suddenly deteriorated to get his attention.
She denied having a secret relationship with the man. But sources say she was not truthful. They claim she continued her relationship with the doctor after she was dismissed from the ward.
The first time Letby appeared visibly distressed in court was when the doctor testified against her. She attempted to leave the courtroom claiming to feel unwell, but Johnson replied, “No, it’s because you didn’t like hearing your boyfriend giving evidence, did you?’
She Got a Thrill from Killing
Letby acted unusually when recalling the babies that were murdered. One child’s parents told police she was “smiling and going on about how she was present at (the child’s) bath and how much she had loved it”. Evidence revealed that she would also search for the parents on Facebook on the anniversaries of the babies’ deaths.
Letby claimed she was trying “to have some positive memories” but Johnson argued that she got a thrill out of watching people grieve.
She Was Not Good Enough
Post-it notes Letby wrote were submitted as evidence in the case. “I don’t deserve to live. I killed them on purpose because I’m not good enough to care for them,” the notes said.
Johnson warned jurors not to view these notes as confessions. Letby’s lawyer explained they were an “anguished outpouring of a young woman’s fear and despair when she realizes the enormity of what’s being said about her.”
One psychologist not involved in the trial believed Lucy Letby was a covert narcissist. He felt she may have been motivated by a “pathological desire for attention and sympathy”. Other experts suggested she may suffer from Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, a condition in which caretakers harm their patients to gain attention.