Page last updated at 09:16 GMT, Wednesday, 30 September 2009 10:16 UK

Shipman's letters show no remorse

By Ruth Clegg
BBC News

Harold Shipman
Harold Shipman refused to admit any wrongdoing

Letters written by Dr Harold Shipman, one of Britain's most notorious serial killers, are to be sold at auction.

They give an insight into a man who killed an estimated 250 of his patients by injecting them with lethal doses of morphine.

Sent to two of his former patients before his trial, during it and just a month before he killed himself, Shipman's writings fluctuate between anger and resentment to cynicism and denial.

Yet they are peppered with descriptions of everyday life.

In a letter he wrote to his friends and former patients, David and Mavis Stott, Shipman switched from talking about the weather to saving the life of a cellmate, a murderer-of-three who tried to kill himself.

26 February 1999

Extract of Shipman's letters

It reads: "Life in here is entertaining, my cell-mate tried to hang himself on Monday night. I heard the noise from his last breaths, lifted him up and then untied the knot and laid him on the floor before crying for help.

"After that I went back to sleep at about 2 o'clock in the morning. My cell-mate seems a lot better now, his medication is working."

Shipman had been charged with murdering 15 elderly women four days before this incident.

'Confirmed liar'

He was on remand in HMP Manchester and had begun to form a bond with his cellmate as they both had "similar tastes of radio" and "talked about many things".

Several months later, on 5 October 1999, his trial started amid a flurry of publicity.

Enjoying the attention, he detailed being driven around in a white Ford Galaxy with a "police response team either side" of him and they "even put up a helicopter to watch over" as he moved from one police station to the next.

As the trial started at Preston Crown Court, however, Shipman's fury over the prosecution case against him is clear.

January 2000

Extract of Shipman's letters

One part reads: "[I] was a confirmed liar, a cheat, a forger, a murderer......I was as slippery as an eel."

He shows absolute outrage at being accused of murder - yet investigations clearly show a long line of killings.

Some experts said he could have started fatally injecting his patients when he was just 25.

January 2000

Extract of Shipman's letters

He wrote: "At the end of the case the jury go out with morphine in their body and who was most likely to put it there?"

He may have hated the accusations, but at the same time he revelled in the publicity.

He often mentioned the BBC, Sky News and various radio stations and how his actions had been interpreted.

At one stage, while on remand he showed despair that there was a sudden lack of media attention surrounding his case.

He wrote to the Stotts: "There is no publicity at the moment and it feels like nothing is being done. The episode has caused me to breakdown in a very big way."

Extract of Shipman's letters

Shipman states: "I didn't kill anyone and that will be the statement until I die."

He wrote this in 2000. At no point in his letters did he suggest feelings of remorse or guilt.

His constant denial of any wrongdoing is apparent throughout his long letters, some of them four or five pages long.

Shipman even suggested there "was very little definitive evidence - no-one saw me do it".

In his last letter to the Stotts, just weeks before he was found hanging in Wakefield Prison in January 2004, he seemed to be less aggressive and condescending.

Gone were the accusations against his legal team and the prosecution and the aloofness he held throughout.

Extract of Shipman's letters

His last words: "Prim [Primrose, his wife)] is upset about the downgrading of me to basic. I hope you have an enjoyable Christmas."

He signed himself off as Fred, which was his middle name and the one he used with friends.

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