A British nurse was found guilty on Friday in the deaths of seven newborns and the attempted murders of six others, according to the police department responsible for the investigation, ending a yearslong case that has haunted England since a string of deaths in the neonatal unit where the nurse worked came to light in 2016.
The nurse, Lucy Letby, 33, was accused of killing seven babies and trying to kill 10 others while working at the Countess of Chester Hospital in the city of Chester, in northwestern England, between June 2015 and June 2016. She was first charged in 2020.
Over the course of the trial at Manchester Crown Court, which began in October, jurors heard that Ms. Letby had harmed the babies in her care in a number of ways, including by poisoning them and injecting them with milk, air, and insulin. She denied those accusations.
The nurse was charged after an extensive investigation.
An unexpectedly high number of deaths in the neonatal unit of the Countess of Chester Hospital led to an investigation in 2016.
An independent review published in 2017 found no definitive explanation for the increase in mortality rates, but the report noted significant gaps in staffing, poor decision-making in the unit and an insufficient number of senior staff members.
In 2017, the hospital contacted the Cheshire Constabulary, the police department responsible for the area, which began its own inquiry. At the height of the investigation, the police had 70 officers and civilian staff working on the case.
The hospital’s chief executive at the time of the deaths resigned in 2018 and issued a statement referring to the investigation.
The case horrified the British public for years.
Over 10 months, the jury heard harrowing evidence that the prosecution said showed that Ms. Letby had deliberately harmed the babies. The defense has argued that she was a scapegoat for the hospital’s failings, and Ms. Letby has maintained her innocence.
But her case had captivated Britain for years before the trial, after she was charged with 22 counts in connection with the deaths and harm to the babies.
Ms. Letby was arrested in 2018 and 2019 in relation to the investigation, but not charged. She was ultimately arrested and charged in 2020 after a criminal investigation by the Cheshire police that focused on the deaths of 17 babies from March 2015 to July 2016.
When the trial began, details of the deaths of the babies, whose names were not used in court, dominated tabloid headlines.