Only three other women have received same sentence as Lucy Letby as killer will die behind bars
| Last updated
On Monday, former neonatal nurse and serial killer, Lucy Letby, became the fourth woman to be sentenced to a whole life order.
This is different from a life sentence, in which someone is on licence for life but can be released after serving a term in prison. With a whole life order, there is no possibility of ever being released from prison.
This is the most severe sentence which can be handed out by a UK criminal court and is only used in the most serious of crimes. When they were first introduced in 1983, the Home Secretary would have to sign off on them, with the power to impose them being granted solely to judges by the Criminal Justice Act in 2003.
Letby is only the fourth woman to ever be given a whole life order since the sentence was introduced.
While murder always means a life sentence, whole life orders are reserved for the most egregious of murder cases. These might include cases involving sexual abuse of victims, torture and mutilation, serial killers, or the murder of children. In other words, the absolute worst of the worst.
Here are the other three women to be given whole life orders - you may be familiar with them.
West operated alongside her husband, Fred West. Between 1971 and 1987, the pair sexually abused and murdered 10 women and girls. Among the victims were her daughter, her step-daughter, and the pregnant lover of her husband.
Rose was initially given life with a minimum term of 25 years, which meant she would have been eligible for release in 2020. However, two years later in 1997, Home Secretary Jack Straw changed the sentence to a whole life order. West is currently 69 years old and serving time at HMP New Hall, Wakefield.
Myra Hindley was one of the Moors Murderers along with her boyfriend, Ian Brady. She was convicted shortly after the death penalty was abolished in the UK, avoiding the noose by just six months.
She was initially sentenced to 25 years minimum term, which was increased to 30 years in 1985. However in 1986, she and Barry confessed to two more murders, and in 1990 her sentence was increased to a whole life order. She died in 2002 in prison.
Joanna Dennehy was convicted of the 2013 Ditch Murders. She murdered three men and left their bodies in ditches, as well as attacking two other men.
All three of the men that she succeeded in killing were known to her, being her lover, her housemate, and her acquaintance.
She gave no motive for the killing beyond saying that she found killing entertaining. Dennehy became the first woman to be given a whole life order by a judge at her sentencing. She is currently 41-years-old and serving her sentence at Low Newton prison.