London | Neonatal nurse Lucy Letby, convicted as the most prolific child serial killer in modern British history, was on Monday sentenced to a whole-life term by a UK court for killing seven babies and attempting to murder at least six others while working at a hospital in northern England.
Justice James Goss removed any early release provisions from the whole-life sentence order, saying the exceptionally serious nature of her crimes meant that the 33-year-old will spend the rest of her life behind bars.
Letby was last week found guilty of the murder of seven newborn babies and also found guilty of seven counts of attempted murder relating to six other babies at the Countess of Chester Hospital in northern England between June 2015 and June 2016.
In his sentencing remarks, Justice Goss said the nurse had acted in "gross breach of trust and with premeditation, calculation and cunning as he handed down the tough custodial sentence at Manchester Crown Court.
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, said Justice Goss.
"The babies you harmed were born prematurely and some were at risk of not surviving but in each case you deliberately harmed them, intending to kill them, he said.
On Friday, a jury at the same court had handed down a guilty verdict at the end of a 10-month trial, following which Indian-origin consultant paediatrician Dr Ravi Jayaram spoke out about the alarms he and his colleagues had raised at the Countess of Chester Hospital where the nurse committed the crimes.
I do genuinely believe that there are four or five babies who could be going to school now who aren't," Dr Jayaram said after the verdict.
Letby enhanced the anguish of the parents whose babies were murdered or attacked by refusing to attend her sentencing hearing.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned the nurse as "cowardly" for
this, adding that his government is looking at changing the law to compel guilty criminals to face their victims after being found guilty.
"I think, like everyone reading about this, it's just shocking and harrowing. Now, I think it's cowardly that people who commit such horrendous crimes do not face their victims and hear first-hand the impact that their crimes have had on them and their families and loved ones, said Sunak.
"We are looking and have been at changing the law to make sure that that happens, and that's something that we'll bring forward in due course," he said.
The murder trial heard how Letby deliberately injected babies with air, force fed others milk and poisoned two of the infants with insulin. Many of the parents impacted by her crimes addressed the court with their victim impact statements ahead of the sentencing, with tearful mothers speaking of their trauma at discovering how their babies suffered as they breathed their last.
The judge noted that the nurse, now convicted as one of Britain's worst serial killers in history and only the fourth woman to be handed a whole-life term, "relished" being in the intensive care unit where she took an interest in "uncommon" complications and targeted twins and triplets.
"The impact of your crimes has been immense Loving parents have been robbed of their cherished children. You have caused deep psychological trauma," said Justice Goss.
"There was a malevolence bordering on sadism in your actions. During the course of this trial you have coldly denied any responsibility for your wrongdoing. You have no remorse. There are no mitigating factors," he said, explaining the factors that determined her tough sentence without any prospect of parole.
Whole-life orders are the most severe punishment available and are reserved for those who commit the most heinous crimes, the BBC reported.
The UK's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which was able to prove the case against Letby after months of intense evidence gathering, expressed relief that the nurse had finally been brought to justice.
My thoughts remain with the families of the victims who have demonstrated enormous strength in the face of extraordinary suffering. I hope that the trial has brought answers which had long eluded them, said Senior Crown Prosecutor Pascale Jones.
"These were tiny, vulnerable newborn babies that she should have been caring for. She will never leave prison, added Cheshire Police, which led the murder investigation.
Meanwhile, a senior manager in charge of nursing when Letby murdered and seriously injured babies in her care has been suspended from her current role.
Alison Kelly, serving as nursing director at the Northern Care Alliance until recently, has now been suspended "in light of information" that emerged during the Letby trial.