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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Holly Evans

How true crime obsessives convinced Lucy Letby was innocent ‘broke reporting restrictions’

Cheshire Constabulary

True crime enthusiasts and armchair detectives were once again the source of frustration for police during the trial of Lucy Letby, just months after causing difficulties during the search for missing mum Nicola Bulley.

Throughout the ten-month trial, several members of the public attended court and watched proceedings remotely from an annexe building alongside members of the press.

Despite strict restrictions on the naming of certain witnesses and Letby’s victims, the identities of a small few made it onto Reddit before they were reported and removed.

The serial killer nurse murdered seven babies and attempted to kill six others (Cheshire Constabulary/PA)
— (PA Media)

Since her conviction last Friday, the site has been littered with discussion breaking down her motives and the evidence, with many claiming that the serial killer nurse was innocent or misrepresented at court.

The 33-year-old was handed a whole life sentence on Monday and will die behind bars after she was found guilty of murdering seven babies and attempting to kill a further six victims.

However, a few online conspiracy theorists continue to emerge and peddle theories that the evidence supplied to jurors was “inconsistent” or “circumstantial” while others have described the hospital as a “disaster zone” that was unfit for purpose.

The enormous public interest the case has generated echoes that of Nicola Bulley, who was reported missing in January while walking her dog in Lancashire.

A number of social media users visited St Michael’s on Wyre to take videos and pictures, while others broke into buildings and went through residents’ gardens to find the missing mum.

Police were forced to issue a 48-hour dispersal order to clear the village, with Detective Superintendent Rebecca Smith stating that internet sleuths had been “playing their own private detectives” and risked “thwarting” the investigation.

She has been jailed for a whole-life term and will die behind bars
— (Cheshire Police)

Ms Bulley’s body was discovered over three weeks later in the River Wyre, with her death ruled as an accidental drowning at her inquest.

A campaign to raise funds for Lucy Letby’s appeal has been launched in the US and claimed that the conviction “may represent the greatest miscarriage of justice the UK has ever witnessed”.

Led by Sarrita Adams, a scientific consultant for biotech startups in California, the main aim of the campaign is “to ensure that scientific evidence is used responsibly in the criminal justice system”.

The fundraising page of the ‘Science on Trial’ website is not currently open to donations but there is a “coming soon” button on display. Letby’s legal team have not revealed if they plan to appeal, with successful appeals in the case of whole life tariffs incredibly rare.

The disappearance of Nicola Bulley generated a similar amount of public interest (Family handout/PA)
— (PA Media)

Meanwhile, the hashtag #LucyLetbyInnocent has accrued millions of views, likes and comments on TikTok, with one user creating a video stating it is “statistically improbable” for all the deaths on Letby’s watch to be murder.

Others have compared the case to Amanda Knox and Dutch nurse Lucia de Berk, both of whom wrongfully served prison sentences until their murder convictions were overturned.

However, jurors found Letby guilty after 10 months of harrowing evidence and lengthy cross-examination, making her the most prolific child serial killer in modern history.

Sentencing her to life in prison, Mr Justice Goss said that her behaviour amounted to a “deep malevolence bordering on sadism” and that she had undertaken a “cruel, calculated and cynical campaign of child murder”.

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