LifeWhat drove Britain's most vicious baby killer to be so cruel?

What drove Britain’s most vicious baby killer to be so cruel?

What drove Britain’s most vicious baby killer to be so cruel towards innocent newborn babies or very young children? Insanity or the innate thirst to take another person’s life?

British nurse Lucy Letby, 32, the baby killer who worked in the neonatal unit at Countess of Chester Hospital, was charged with killing seven babies and ten murder attempts.

According to the prosecution, Letby attempted to kill the first baby on 30 September. The attempt made the infant vomit and struggle to breathe for half an hour. The same attempt was made on the 12th and 13th of October and eventually killed the infant on October 22 by injecting air into her bloodstream.

The trial, which began in October last year, is now in its 13th week but Letby denies all the charges.

Not one baby killer?

Regrettably, Letby is not the first woman who kills babies and young children in the UK.

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Another one was Beverley Allitt who murdered four children and tried to kill many more while working in a hospital in 1991. She gave the children large doses of insulin over the course of 59 days. No motive was established for the horrendous killings.

Allitt was sentenced to 13 life sentences in 1993, one of the longest sentences given to a woman in Britain.

Then there was Danish serial killer Dagmar Overbye who murdered 25 children from 1913 to 1920. Each of her victims, including her own child, was under her care, mostly babies out of wedlock. She was sentenced to death in 1921 but died in prison in 1929.

Who is Lucy Letby?

According to The Telegraph, she was a former health worker who attended a comprehensive school in Hereford before enrolling at the University of Chester to study nursing.

Letby had “a clean record with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and was even the face of a campaign to raise £3m for the unit,” reported the Daily Mail.

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In an interview with the Chester Standard for an article about the hospital’s 2013 Babygrow Appeal to fund a new neonatal unit, Letby’s rold involved “caring for a wide range of babies requiring various levels of support.”


Infanticide is the act of deliberately causing the death of a very young child (under 1 year old).

Historically, and in many societies, infanticide was a common practice, allowed by diverse cultures around the world. Today, it is viewed as a heinous crime; yet, it is still performed. Infanticide is usually difficult to report because in most cases these deaths are covered as stillbirths or children were just not registered at the civil registry after the birth.

But the question remains – what drives the mindless, cold-blooded person to become a baby killer and to take the life of an innocent child? Mental illness plays a big part.

According to a study authored by Phillip J. Resnick MD, professor of psychiatry and director of the Division of Forensic Psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, many suffer from recurrent despair, fixations, and suicidal thoughts. These people have typically received prior treatment for mental health issues.

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Maternal filicide, says Resnick, occurs for a variety of reasons. They can include a perverse kind of selflessness (in which a mother feels the child is better off dead), acute psychosis (when a delirious or psychotic mother kills a child without any motive), or fatal maltreatment. The latter tends to be a cumulative result of abuse, neglect, or Munchausen syndrome by proxy, in which a parent, in a bid for compassion, makes or amplifies an ailment in their child, often giving them unnecessary treatments.

Sometimes the child is simply unwelcome—he or she may be inconvenient for the mother’s new relationship, or the advancement of her career, or is used as a lethal pawn in a case of spousal revenge. And that, according to some, can turn a woman to be a baby killer.

Western World

Most infanticide cases take place outside the U.S., such as China and India where the culture favors males over females, says Christina DeJong, associate professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University and vice president of the American Society of Criminology, Division on Women and Crime.

Nevertheless, mothers in the Western world who kill their children are more severely humiliated due to the social expectations that go along with their traditional role in the family. Regardless, there is no difference between a western or non-western baby killer.

It boils down to the socio-cultural notion that women should be the family caretaker and nurturers while fathers should be the wage earners.

Thus, when a woman kills children, the world is horrified because that’s the exact opposite of the role that a woman is supposed to have.

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