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Friday, 19 July, 2002, 12:12 GMT 13:12 UK
Shipman 'killed 215 patients'
Harold Shipman
Harold Shipman will never be released
Former GP Harold Shipman killed at least 215 of his patients, an official report has concluded.

The finding confirms 56-year-old Shipman as Britain's worst serial killer.

Shipman was convicted in January 2000 of killing 15 of his patients with lethal heroin injections and was sentenced to life imprisonment for each of the murders.


He betrayed their trust in a way and to an extent I believe is unparalleled in history

Dame Janet Smith
But an inquiry into the case, by High Court judge Dame Janet Smith, has found that a further 200 deaths were "highly suspicious" while there was a "real suspicion" he could have claimed a further 45 victims.

She said: "He betrayed their trust in a way and to an extent I believe is unparalleled in history."

In Hyde, where many of the victims lived, church bells were rung 215 times on Friday morning in memory of those murdered.

Of Shipman's 215 victims, 171 were women and 44 were men, with the oldest being a 93-year-old woman and the youngest a 47-year-old man.

Five of these people lived on the same street. Nine lived in the same sheltered housing complex.

According to the 2,000-page report, the first of Shipman's victims was Mrs Eva Lyons, who he murdered in March 1975 while at the Abraham Ormerod Medical Practice in Todmorden the day before her 71st birthday.

Another 71 patients were killed during Shipman's time at the Donneybrook House group practice in Hyde, and the remaining 143 were murdered at Shipman's single-handed practice that he set up in Market Street, Hyde, in 1992.

Relatives informed

Their relatives have been informed of the inquiry's conclusions, and given detailed analysis of individual cases.

The findings are based on police and medical records as well as relatives' testimony.

Dame Janet Smith
Dame Janet offered her sympathies to the relatives

Shipman's wife Primrose refused to comment on the findings from her home near Wetherby in Yorkshire.

But Dame Janet said the report sets "out as complete and accurate an account of Shipman's criminality as I believe it will be ever be possible for anyone other than Shipman himself to give".

She said the former GP had caused "unimaginable distress and grief".

In the report, she added: "No-one reading this report can fail to be shocked by the enormity of the crimes committed by Shipman and to feel, as I do, the deepest sympathy for his victims and their families."

Shipman has already been told by Home Secretary David Blunkett he will die in prison. He will also be sent a copy of the report.

The Director of Public Prosecutions decided last year that Shipman would not stand trial again.


If I could get my hands on that man I would. I'm not a violent person but I'd certainly kill him

Marjorie Stafford, daughter of victim
The report comes at the end of the first phase of the inquiry, which scrutinised the circumstances surrounding the deaths of a total of 888 patients.

The second phase will now look at how Shipman went undetected for so long and what changes should be made to ensure it can never happen again.

'Highly regarded'

Shipman ran a one-man GP practice in the Manchester suburb of Hyde. He was well-respected and highly regarded by his patients.

He had previously been sacked from a job at another practice after being fined for making out drug prescriptions to feed an addiction to the morphine-like drug pethidine. The General Medical Council disciplined him, but failed to strike him off.

Ann Alexander, solicitor for some of the families, said the report would provide an opportunity for people to come to terms with Shipman's crimes.

"There are thousands of people who have been affected by what has gone on," she told the BBC.

Detective Chief Superintendent Bernard Postles
Mr Postle hoped the report would bring closure

She added that she would not rule out seeking compensation for the families involved.

Detective Chief Superintendent Bernard Postles, who led the murder investigation, said: "I hope [the] findings bring some feeling of 'closure' to the friends and families of the dead."

Chris Bird, the son of one of Shipman's victims, said: "My mum had total faith in [Shipman] and that's the most upsetting thing."

Marjorie Stafford, who found out this week that her mother had been murdered by Shipman, said: "If I could get my hands on that man I would. I'm not a violent person but I'd certainly kill him."

Britain's most prolific murderers include Thomas Hamilton, who gunned down 16 children and their teacher at a school in Dunblane, Scotland, in 1996, and "House of Horrors" killer Fred West, who killed 12 young women in Gloucester.

  • Harold Shipman: Measuring Evil is on Friday at 10:35 BST on BBC One.
  •  WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Kevin Bocquet
    "The doctor who brought death to his patients"
    The BBC's Andrew Burroughs
    "Investigators believe there could still be many more"
    Inquiry Chairman Dame Janet Smith
    "He has caused unimaginable grief and distress"

    Key stories

    The human cost

    Background

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