A nurse could not remember telling a mother her child “didn’t die of prematurity”, the murder trial of Lucy Letby was told.
Fellow nurse Letby, 33, is accused of murdering the baby girl, known as Child I, on her fourth attempt, while she was being cared for at the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neo-natal unit.
Her then colleague was asked if she could recall a later conversation with Child I’s mother, who had returned to the unit to drop off cash she had raised.
She had looked after Child I the night before she died on October 23 2015, and had dressed the baby, who had become “very unsettled”, Manchester Crown Court heard.
The nurse, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: “Mum came in and asked why I had dressed her and I explained I wanted to see if it settled her.
“I don’t remember saying to her that (Child I) didn’t die of prematurity. I only remember the babygro part of the conversation.”
Letby’s alleged victim weighed just 2lb 2oz at birth in August 2015, but by September 29 was noted by medics to be “gaining weight nicely” and “doing OK”.
On the afternoon of September 30 she required breathing assistance from nursing staff via a face mask, after she had a large vomit and her blood oxygen levels and heart rate plummeted.
The defendant, who was Child I’s designated nurse on the shift, handed over her care to night-shift nurse Bernadette Butterworth in the early evening, when the youngster deteriorated once more.
The oxygen facemask was used again but no chest wall movement was detected, the court heard.
Miss Butterworth noted Child I’s swollen tummy and asked Letby to aspirate her nasogastric feeding tube, which obtained a “fair amount of air” and 2ml of milk.
She told the court: “She settled down. She came back to normal, her heart rate and respiratory rate.”
Doctors suspected a bowel problem as they prescribed antibiotics and ordered blood tests and X-rays.
On the afternoon of October 1, Letby messaged a colleague: “(Child I) was found gasping in cot, full resus and vented. Don’t know why. Wasn’t nice.”
In a statement to the court, another nurse, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said that at about this time there were “massive staffing issues” and people were coming in to do extra shifts on the unit.
She said it was “mainly Lucy doing a lot” of extra shifts as she was qualified to carry out emergency care if required.
The nurse added: “Lucy was young, living in a doctors’ halls of residence and saving to buy a house.
“She was single and was willing and wanting to do extras.”
The Crown say Letby made further bids to kill Child I in the early hours of October 13 and 14 before her final successful attempt later that month.
It is alleged she harmed the youngster by either injecting air into her feeding tube and bloodstream, or overfeeding her with milk.
The defence say Child I’s clinical problems “may have been inevitable given her extreme immaturity”.
Letby, originally from Hereford, denies murdering seven babies and attempting to murder 10 others between June 2015 and June 2016.
The trial continues.