The guilty verdict had only just been announced but within minutes my in-box was filled with emails proclaiming that a mistake had been made and that Lucy Letby had been a victim of a miscarriage of justice. For some there was a whiff of conspiracy too.

Many of these emails were anonymous and came from addressees calling themselves, for example, “truthfinder0001” or “justiceforlucy”, while others directed me to various blog posts where the writer pored over the evidence that had been presented at court and found it wanting. Another email suggested that I watch a more academic YouTube post by Professor Norman Fenton, a mathematician at Queen Mary, University of London, in which he interviewed one of his former students, Dr Scott McLachlan, who uses the twitter handle @LawHealthTech.

This is by far the most important contribution of the many commentators poring cold water on Letby’s guilty conviction, although in the YouTube post Dr McLachlan seemed to infer that Letby had been poorly defended, which I do not accept and wrongly suggested that it was “normal” for nurses to take home their hand-over notes. In fact, nurses should never take home their handover notes, as they contain confidential medical information about individuals and the fact that Letby did was rightly regarded as a source of concern at her trial.

McLachlan’s strongest points all relate to statistics and whether or not it was fair, as the prosecution suggested and which was accepted by the jury, that there were “spikes” in the numbers of neo-natal deaths when Letby was working and which could only be explained by her harming the babies in her care. As I have always argued in my own research, statistics and the law both speak English but they do so with very different dialects. The statistician and the detective can see very different patterns from the evidence that is presented and a statistician can demonstrate that a wider time frame would produce a very different conclusion from one which is more narrowly focussed. In essence that is what McLachlan is claiming.

I have also pointed out that, from my own research about nurses who kill within a hospital setting, Letby was an “outlier”. In other words, she did not fit the pattern of those nurses who had been convicted of murder. She was well-liked and socialised within her peer group; she did not make her colleagues feel uneasy; she was not suffering from depression and did not seem to have a personality disorder; nor was she obsessed with serial killers, or ever found to have legal or illegal drugs in her locker at work or at home. I have since suggested that this is why Letby was able to kill for at least a year, while most of the nurses who had killed in a ward or in a specialist unit were caught after an average of just three months.

One detective who worked on the case described Letby as “beige” and I think that her very ordinariness – “nice Lucy Letby” as she was described by a former colleague – is also one of the reasons that so many people who contacted me presume that this is a miscarriage of justice. However, this is to misunderstand what serial killers are actually like. Hollywood usually makes the serial killer appear to be a dysfunctional loner, whereas in reality they are often well-integrated in the community, seen as “normal” and even trustworthy.

The British case in point here is Dr Harold Shipman – our most prolific serial killer who murdered at least 215 of his mostly older, female patients. Yet Shipman was seen as a good, “old-fashioned” GP and when he was first accused of murder his other patients in his practice were so incensed that they set up a “fighting fund” to pay for his legal expenses. And, like Letby, Shipman pleaded not guilty at court and never spoke about what might have motivated him to take the lives of his patients, prior to committing suicide in prison.

As far as I am aware, none of my email correspondents, the blog posters, Professor Fenton or Dr McLachlan, attended Letby’s trial – one of the longest in English legal history. Nor did I. None of us listened to the evidence that was presented, or watched as Letby herself took the stand. As has now been revealed, we were not present when the court had to be cleared so that she could make her way into the witness box without being observed because she did not want to be seen walking. Just a small thing I know, but I wonder to what extent this was about her exercising a form of power in a situation in which she increasingly had none.

But my point is a broader one – unlike the jury, we did not assess this case in the round and are therefore forming a view based on what has been reported, other documentation which is in the public domain about the performance of the hospital more generally, relying on our specific academic expertise or, worst of all, “gut instinct”.

However, I do not have to be convinced that miscarriages of justice happen within the criminal justice systems which exist in this country. I know that they do. And no doubt Letby’s defence team will appeal her conviction and, if these appeals are eventually exhausted and new evidence comes to light which would exonerate her, she can then take her case to the criminal cases review commission. That organisation exists both north and south of the border to put right mistakes that a court might have made.

Was such a mistake made in Letby’s case? A jury of her peers did not think so, even though she was an “outlier”, “beige” or thought of by her colleagues as “nice”. So perhaps the bigger questions that need to be answered relate to why there is now such a popular rush to disbelieve formal judgements such as this and to try to discover exactly when some people became so distrusting of the investigatory and legal process?

Looked at in this way, there’s much to connect what people are arguing about Lucy Letby with what some Americans are saying about the current legal charges being faced by Donald Trump.