Nurse quizzed over neo-natal unit baby deaths released on bail

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Police at the home of Lucy Letby in Chester, after the nurse was re-arrested on suspicion of the murders of eight babies at a hospital neo-natal unit (Peter Byrne/PA)

A nurse who was re-arrested on suspicion of the murders of eight babies at a hospital neo-natal unit has been released on bail, police have said.

Lucy Letby, 29, was initially arrested last July on suspicion of the murder of eight babies and the attempted murder of six other infants as part of a police inquiry into the deaths of 17 babies at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

She was re-arrested on Monday on suspicion of those offences, as well as in connection with the attempted murder of three more babies.

Countess of Chester Hospital police investigation
Police at the home of Lucy Letby in Chester (Peter Byrne/PA)

On Thursday, a Cheshire Police spokesman said she had been bailed pending further inquiries.

Earlier this week police carried out searches at her home in the Blacon area of Chester, where a blue forensic tent could be seen outside.

Detective Inspector Paul Hughes, who is in charge of the inquiry, said: “I would like to remind people that, due to the nature of this investigation, it is extremely challenging and remains very much active and ongoing.

“There are no set timescales for this and we would ask people to bear with us whilst we continue with our inquiries.

“We remain committed to carrying out a thorough investigation as soon as possible and I want to reassure people that we are doing everything we can, as quickly as we can, to identify what has led to these baby deaths and collapses.

“We fully appreciate that it continues to have a big impact on all of the families involved and staff and patients at the hospital, as well as members of the public.

Countess of Chester Hospital police investigation
The Countess of Chester Hospital, where police launched an investigation following a number of deaths of babies (Peter Byrne/PA)

“All of the babies’ parents have been updated and are being supported throughout the process by specially trained officers.

“This is an extremely difficult time for all the families and it is important to remember that at the heart of this there are a number of families seeking answers as to what happened to their children.”

Detectives launched an investigation into infant deaths at the hospital in May 2017, initially looking at the deaths of 15 babies between June 2015 and June 2016.

The probe has since widened and police are currently investigating the deaths of 17 babies and 16 non-fatal collapses between March 2015 and July 2016.

Ms Letby, originally from Hereford, had been on bail since last July before her re-arrest this week.

In a 2013 interview with the Chester and District Standard newspaper, the nurse said she cared for babies requiring various levels of support.

She had worked at the unit as a student nurse during three years of training before qualifying as a children’s nurse at the University of Chester in 2011.

She said she started working at the unit after graduating.

Police urged anyone with information to get in touch with the investigation team at operation.hummingbird@cheshire.pnn.police.uk.

Information can also be passed on anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111 or via the Major Incident public portal at https://mipp.police.uk/operation/9901020317C89-PO1

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