THERE has and will perhaps forever be speculation over why ex-Nurse Lucy Letby killed the babies in her care, writes columnist Alison Eden.

We prefer our human monsters to signal their evil in some way – not look like the girl next door.

That this murderous nurse, with the C-Beebies style sing-song name could have disappeared so easily into a crowd with her average height, build, shoulder length hair and unremarkable face is terrifying. It’s so much easier to assume you’ll know evil when you encounter it.

That assumption, though, that evil has a face, is how people have ended up wrongly accused over centuries, depicted as ugly, diseased, plain, odd.

It’s why warty old women have ended up burnt as witches and blamed for crops failing and milk souring.

When Joanna Yates, a 25-year old architect, was murdered on Christmas Day in Bristol (2010) her murderer was found to be a Dutch architect.

During the course of the investigation however, a retired, single, former public-school teacher was arrested and later released. A ferocious media denounced him as guilty, odd, suspicious. He was so relentlessly hounded by the nation’s press that he successfully won damages from eight newspapers for the destruction their coverage wreaked on his life.

That human beings kill each-other is not news. That human beings can develop without empathy, without a nurturing impulse, without interest in other people is also not unusual. That we can’t tell who is harbouring those feelings is terrifying.

It’s precisely because this quietly spoken, sociable nurse with the open face and lifeloving circle of friends could be any of us or any of our own friends that we need our processes to change. There must be an enquiry into how the pattern of deaths at this hospital was discounted for so long.

Since there were concerns, why, for example, was there no CCTV placed in the wards?

There are calls to reintroduce the death penalty for Lucy Letby. I will argue against that. We abolished capital punishment for all crimes in 1998 (the last executions in the UK took place in 1964). The death penalty does not deter murder and sometimes innocent people are executed.

We know this from evidence. In the US, the states which have the death penalty do not have lower murder rates than other states without capital punishment. Of course there could be many other reasons that explain those figures but if you’re looking for proof that state-sanctioned execution will stop crime, stop looking - there isn’t any.

Would I want to end the life of somebody who killed my child – yes. Should the government do this for me in the name of justice? - absolutely not.

As Amnesty International say: ‘no one – including any government – has the right to take away someone else’s life’.

The name ‘Lucy’ (and the male form Luke) derives from the word for light in Latin (lux). Lux is the root of so many wonderful words implying beauty and clarity (lucid for example). Lux is also the root of one of the words for Satan - Lucifer - meaning ‘light-bearing’. Lucifer in Christian mythology is a ‘fallen angel’ hence ‘light-bearing’, who chooses to leave heaven and oppose God from Hell.

If it weren’t for there also being a Saint Luke, one of the 12 disciples, described as a healer, physician and writer of one of the four gospels, I’d find the use of the name as strange as anybody calling their child Adolph. There’s a horrible irony in the aptness of Lucy Letby’s name.