A UK nurse pled not guilty on Monday to the murder of five boys and two girls in a neonatal unit.
The British healthcare worker, 32-year-old Lucy Letby, appeared at Manchester Crown Court in northwest England to stand trial for the deaths of seven babies she has been accused of murdering and the attempted murder of 10 others.
Parents of the victims were present for the court proceedings on Monday.
On behalf of the prosecution, attorney Nick Johnson began by noting that Countess of Chester hospital was a "busy general hospital like so many others in the UK".
"Unlike many other hospitals," he said, "within the neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital, a poisoner was at work".
"Prior to January 2015, the statistics for the mortality of babies in the neo-natal unit at the Countess of Chester were comparable to other like units," Johnson said per BBC.
"However, over the next 18 months or so, there was a significant rise in the number of babies who were dying and in the number of serious catastrophic collapses."
An inquiry was made into the sudden rise of deaths and severe medical complications. According to Johnson, hospital investigators found a "common denominator" — Letby. Even once Letby was given a different shift the pattern continued, the prosecution claimed.
Johnson then alleged that Letby murdered babies by various means — either by injecting air into the bloodstream, feeding with insulin, or too much milk.
"So varying means by which these babies were attacked, but the constant presence when they were fatally attacked or collapsed catastrophically was Lucy Letby."
"The collapses of all 17 children concerned were not 'naturally occurring tragedies,'" the prosecutor said per The Times. "They were all the work, we say, of the woman in the dock, who we say was the constant, malevolent presence when things took a turn for the worse for these 17 children."
Nurse Letby was initially arrested on suspicion of committing the crimes in 2018 but was bailed "pending further enquiries." She was arrested again a year later "on suspicion of murder in relation to the deaths of 8 babies and the attempted murder of 6 babies" and "the attempted murder of three additional babies," according to Cheshire Police.