Colleagues of serial killer nurse Lucy Letby have continued to insist that she is innocent after the baby murderer was jailed for life earlier this week.
Nurses who worked alongside Letby, 33, at the Countess of Chester hospital are reportedly struggling to accept that she murdered seven babies and tried to kill another six.
Jurors listened to ten months of evidence that linked Letby to the deaths, which saw youngsters injected with air, poisoned with insulin, and overfed with milk, and found her guilty of 14 out of 21 charges.
Mr Justice Goss slammed the NHS nurse – who did not appear in court to hear the statements from the families of her victims for acting ‘completely contrary to the normal human instincts of nurturing and caring for babies’ during her time in the neonatal ward at the Countess of Chester Hospital.
But some of those who grew up with Letby and worked alongside her are refusing to accept that the nurse is guilty, despite insurmountable evidence of her crimes.
‘There are still a small number of people on the neonatal unit of the Countess of Chester who think she is innocent,’ a source told The Times.
‘They are finding it difficult to believe she could have done it because for so long they were fed the narrative that Letby was being blamed by consultants who were making excuses for their own mistakes.’
A long-term friend of Letby, Dawn Howe, is among those who refuse to accept the jury’s decision that the nurse is a baby killer.
Speaking to the BBC’s Panorama programme, Ms Howe, 33, said: ‘Unless Lucy turned around and said “I’m guilty” I will never believe that she’s guilty.
‘We know she couldn’t have done anything that she’s accused of, so without a doubt, we stand by her.
‘I grew up with Lucy and not a single thing that I’ve ever seen or witnessed of Lucy would let me for a moment believe she is capable of the things she’s accused of.
‘It is the most out-of-character accusation that you could ever put against Lucy.
‘Think of your most kind, gentle, soft friend and think that they’re being accused of harming babies.’
She also accused police of ‘trying to build a case, to find someone culpable to find someone to blame’ as she maintained Letby’s innocence.
The idea of a conspiracy against Letby by bitter colleagues and hospital mismanagement formed the centrepiece of her defence counsel’s case against the charges.
Letby’s lawyers had suggested that there was no evidence to suggest she had inflicted harm on any baby, citing ‘sub-optimal care’ by the hospital, issues with poor hygiene, and a campaign of hostility against the defendant by a number of senior doctors as reasons for the deaths and non-fatal collapses.
But jurors rejected this claim overwhelmingly, finding her guilty of 14 of the 21 charges set against her, and she was given a whole life jail sentence, meaning she will never be released from prison, on Monday.
Despite this, conspiracists who believe Letby was wrongly convicted have launched a campaign to set her free.
Sarrita Adams, a US scientific consultant who has been following the trial, will shortly launch a fundraiser that seeks to overturn what she has branded ‘the greatest miscarriage of justice that the UK has ever witnessed’.
But following Letby’s conviction for offences between June 2015 and June 2016, parents of other children that had been in her care have come forward, fearing that their little ones were also victims of her murderous tendencies.
Mike and Victoria Whitfield claimed Letby was looking after daughter Felicity at the Countess of Chester Hospital in 2013 after she was born prematurely.
Victoria claims that Letby stood over Felicity’s cot with a ‘blank’ expression on her face – before walking away as ‘all hell broke loose’ when the youngster’s lung collapsed.
Felicity – who is now nine – came so close to death that a chaplain was called to conduct an emergency baptism.
Victoria recalled: ‘I’ve got this constant and permanent image in my head of when she [Letby] was standing over the cot.
‘There was no smile when she looked up – her face was just blank, then she walked off.’
In his sentencing remarks, Mr Justice Goss said colleagues at the Countess of Chester Hospital were forced to ‘think the unthinkable’ when they realised that Letby was deliberately hurting babies.
Police searches of Letby’s home uncovered grim mementoes of her victims: mountains of handover notes swiped from the hospital, a diary marking the dates that babies died, a Post-It note that read: ‘I am evil, I did this’.
Mr Justice Goss said: ‘I am satisfied you started to keep these documents after those initial offences in June 2015 as morbid records of the dreadful events surrounding the collapses of your victims and what you had done to them.
‘Some of your victims were only a day or a few days old. All were extremely vulnerable.
‘By their nature and number, such murders and attempted murders by a neonatal nurse entrusted to care for them are offences of very exceptional seriousness.
‘This was a cruel, calculated, and cynical campaign of child murder involving the smallest and most vulnerable of children, knowing that your actions were causing significant physical suffering and would cause untold mental suffering.
‘You have shown no remorse. There are no mitigating factors.’