London | Nurse Lucy Letby 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, saying the seriousness 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.
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,” the judge said.
"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 between 2015 and 2016 at its neonatal unit.
"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.
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.