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7 deadly reads

Sitdown Sunday: How an ordinary nurse became the UK's latest serial killer

Settle down in a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair.

We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. A totally ordinary nurse turned baby killer

this-undated-handout-issued-by-cheshire-constabulary-shows-of-nurse-lucy-letby-a-neonatal-nurse-in-a-british-hospital-has-been-found-guilty-of-killing-seven-babies-and-trying-to-kill-six-others-lucy Lucy Letby Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

The trial of UK nurse Lucy Letby was too upsetting for many people to follow, as the court heard details of how she killed seven babies and tried to murder many more. 

Following her conviction on Friday, Josh Halliday searches for clues to answer the question most people have – why did she do it?

(The Guardian, approx 18 mins reading time)  

Dr Stephen Brearey, the head paediatric consultant on the neonatal unit, has the calm, measured, rational temperament you would expect of a children’s doctor. But he was disturbed by the three deaths in 14 days. He reviewed the babies’ care and, besides a few minor learning points, there was nothing to explain why they had died so unexpectedly.

Then he looked at who was working at the time. Only one nurse was on duty for each death: Letby. Brearey took the findings to Alison Kelly, the director of nursing, and explained that the mortalities were still unexplained but added, almost as a postscript, that there was one common link. “It can’t be Lucy. Not nice Lucy,” Brearey told her. It was unthinkable to imagine a nurse harming babies in a neonatal unit, so the suspicion was all but dismissed the instant it had been raised.

2. Ireland’s imported culture war

Have you heard a rumour about a kid down the country identifying as a cat? It’s a trope used across the world to undermine gender identity and trans people, as The Journal found when it investigated why there is so much negative attention on trans people in this country right now. 

(The Journal, approx 33 mins reading time) 

In January of this year, a school in west Cork was similarly forced to issue a statement debunking a viral WhatsApp voicenote in which it was claimed that a Junior Cert pupil was “identifying as a cat” and that she had meowed at a teacher, who barked at her in response.

The origin of the story appeared to come from similar reports in the US in January 2022, when conservative outlets began reporting on the case of a substitute teacher in California called Bridget Maas who they said had been fired because she wouldn’t “meow” at a student who, it was claimed, identified as a cat. Maas made the claim about the student herself in a TikTok video - in which she did not say she was fired – but no evidence could be found to support her claims that this happened.

The same week, a school superintendent in the state of Michigan coincidentally debunked a similar claim that the school was set to put litter boxes in toilets for students who identified as cats.

Various versions of that claim began to emerge in the US in the following months and were repeated by multiple politicians there.

The story is one of the most prominent examples of misinformation designed to undermine trans people and gender identity - the personal sense of one’s own gender which can differ from the sex you are assigned at birth. 

3.  A son finishes his father’s job – to the Matildas’ delight

file-in-this-saturday-nov-9-2013-file-photo-fifa-president-sepp-blatter-right-shakes-hands-with-sheik-mohammed-bin-hamad-al-thani-chairman-of-qatar-2022-bid-committee-at-a-press-conference Sepp Blatter, right, shakes hands with Sheik Mohammed bin Hamad al-Thani, chairman of Qatar 2022 bid committee in 2013 Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

In 2010, Frank Lowy was confident Australia would win with their bid to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022. Sepp Blatter’s organisation had other plans though and awarded the tournament to Qatar. 

Years later, Lowy’s son wanted to right that perceived wrong so he headed up the country’s bid for the 2023 iteration of the women’s World Cup. 

(The Sydney Morning Herald, approx 11 mins reading time) 

 “Ten years ago, we paid broadcasters to screen women’s football,” Bayer Rosmarin says. “Now, we reached 11.15 million viewers and broke streaming records with women’s sports. That is progress.”

Lowy says his father, who is 92, has been watching from overseas with enormous pride.

“He was burnt but people like my father go for things,” Lowy says. “He’s had a lifetime of success but in that lifetime not everything is successful. He’s deeply disappointed at the outcome [of the 2010 bid] but life is measured over a long period of time. He’s had more wins than losses. If you don’t go for things, you don’t change the boundaries.”

4. Albany will never forget or forgive

How does a community return to normal after students and parents come to physical blows in the aftermath of the discovery of a racist Instagram account?

(The New York Times, approx 30 mins reading time) 

Doe and Rosie have different memories of what Rosie said when she approached him. Rosie, who is white, says she asked him straight up: “Kerry says there’s this weird racist Instagram account you’re following. Can I look at your phone?” Doe remembers her offering a made-up excuse, something like, “Hey, my phone just died, and I need to call my parents.” They agree that he unlocked his phone and handed it to her.

Minutes later, Kerry and Rosie were standing in the middle of the girls’ bathroom, their heads bent over the borrowed phone. Kerry took pictures of the screen with her own phone as Rosie scrolled through the account. Some of the posts were the kinds of things you might see on any other high schooler’s account — memes, guys roasting each other, the regular kind of dumb. But the rest were shocking: a half dozen posts mocking different white and Asian girls at the school for their weight or other aspects of their appearance. Worst of all was the overt, unfiltered racism: Black men being lynched or beaten. Jokes about the Ku Klux Klan and racist slurs. A screenshot of the Snapchat conversation between Charles and A. about the hair-touching video that was captioned, “Holy [expletive] I’m on the edge of bringing my rope to school on Monday.” A photo of another Black girl and her Black basketball coach with a noose drawn around each of their necks and the caption, “twinning is winning.”

“It was so much worse than I anticipated,” Kerry says. “I didn’t think I would react that badly, but I was physically shaking.”

5. Manchester United’s big decision

file-photo-dated-21-11-2022-of-mason-greenwood-charges-against-greenwood-including-attempted-rape-and-assault-have-been-discontinued-by-the-crown-prosecution-service-greater-manchester-police-said Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Mason Greenwood is a fantastic footballer. But he was also accused of rape and assault. The charges were dropped but audio recordings and images that were posted online cannot be disappeared. 

Manchester United, the club he plays for and is paid by, has to decide whether to keep him on their books. 

(The Athletic, approx 17 mins reading time) 

The United players at the Women’s World Cup found themselves the unwitting victims of a social media storm last weekend when, on the eve of England’s quarter-final against Colombia, a story emerged in UK newspaper The Guardian which claimed the decision over Greenwood had been delayed to allow the club to consult them.

In response to posts from United’s official women’s account about the game, which England won 2-1, users have petitioned Zelem, Earps and Ella Toone to allow Greenwood’s return. The messages were seen by players and The Athletic has also been told by a player’s representative that some of the posts were more menacing and threatening.

6. Who is Elon Musk?

file-elon-musk-departs-the-phillip-burton-federal-building-and-united-states-court-house-in-san-francisco-on-jan-24-2023-attorneys-for-a-tesla-shareholder-urged-a-delaware-judge-on-tuesday-feb Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Complicated, romantic hero or grifter? Constance Grady profiles the billionaire after reading a romance novel written by a woman who married Musk twice. 

(Vox, approx 18 mins reading time)

According to a 2012 Esquire article, Musk became obsessed with the question of how to become famous shortly after he founded SpaceX in 2002 and found himself in need of rocket parts. “Nobody will sell me any parts if they don’t know who I am,” he reasoned to his mother, model Maye Musk. That was when he started talking about going to Mars, a lot, to anyone who would listen. He made himself a public figure through sheer force of will.

These were the glory days of Elon Musk, celebrity billionaire: the days from 2009 up until 2018, when he courted the press assiduously and received one glowing headline after another. All that changed, however, in 2018.


A 2019 dive into awful catfishing of hopeful parents-to-be who want to adopt a baby. 

(BBC, approx 17 mins reading time) 

It must be hard for the scammer to remember exactly what she has said to different couples. When Sam is first contacted it’s by someone pretending to be 16 years old. But a month later, Ashley says she will get her dad to call the adoption attorney “since I am only 15″.

The scammer tells another couple that her middle name is Lorraine. Later, they suggest Olivia Lorraine as a potential name for the baby. She then replies, “Olivia is my middle name! Sounds perfect to us!”

But these are not her biggest mistakes.

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