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The Shipman files Monday, 31 January, 2000, 16:46 GMT
The death that led Shipman to the dock
Kathleen Grundy: Fit and full of energy at 81
It was the death of Kathleen Grundy in June 1998 that sparked the police investigation which eventually led to Dr Harold Shipman's conviction.

Mrs Grundy, an 81-year-old widow, was described in court by her daughter Angela Woodruff as fit and full of energy.

So when she died without warning at her home in Hyde, Greater Manchester, the news came as a terrible shock to her family.

That same day, a newly-amended version of the pensioner's will had been received at a nearby solicitors, which had had no previous business with Mrs Grundy.

The new version of the will bequeathed Mrs Grundy's entire estate, valued at almost 400,000, to Shipman.

The doctor's downfall
Mrs Grundy's daughter Angela Woodruff - her suspicions were aroused by the will
On Monday, the jury at Preston Crown Court convicted Shipman of 15 murders including that of Mrs Grundy. He was also found guilty of forging her will.

Mrs Grundy had long been a patient of the GP whom she respected and trusted. She had followed him when he set up his solo practice and shortly before her death had even considered making a 200 donation to his practice fund.

She was found dead on 24 June 1998 after she failed to arrive at a nearby Age Concern club where she helped serve meals for other pensioners.

Mrs Woodruff, herself a solicitor, was told of her mother's death in a phone call from the police.

She called the surgery of Shipman, whose wife Primrose answered the phone and took a message.

When Shipman called back, he told Mrs Woodruff a post mortem was not necessary because he had seen her so soon before her death.

Mrs Woodruff's suspicions were aroused a few days later when she was contacted by the Hyde legal firm handling her mother's will.

Her law practice in Warwick, which specialised in probate, had usually dealt her mother's legal affairs. The original will had been lodged with the firm in 1986.

'The signature looked strange'
Mrs Grundy was murdered at her home in Hyde, Greater Manchester
The will had been badly typed despite the fact Mrs Grundy had been, according to her daughter, a "meticulous person", who had once qualified as a secretary.

Mrs Woodruff told the Shipman trial in October: "My mother was a meticulously tidy person. The thought of her signing a document which is so badly typed didn't make any sense.

"The signature looked strange, it looked too big. The concept of mum signing a document leaving everything to her doctor was unbelievable."

The will also failed to mention a second house that her mother owned.

She contacted the police after speaking to the two witnesses she believed to have signed the document.

The police exhumed Mrs Grundy's body and found traces of morphine. They also recovered the Brother typewriter used for writing the will from Shipman's surgery.

Lethal dose

Shipman told Mrs Woodruff, and maintained in court, that Mrs Grundy had been suffering chest pains shortly before her death.

But Mrs Woodruff says she had spoken to her mother a few days earlier and found her as lively as ever. She had been looking forward to a weekend outing to Derbyshire, the court heard.

The concept of mum signing a document leaving everything to her doctor was unbelievable.

Angela Woodruff

Shipman visited Mrs Grundy at home on the morning of 24 June, ostensibly to take a blood sample. It was then that he injected her with a lethal dose of diamorphine.

The prosecution had also alleged that Shipman had changed Mrs Grundy's records to make a false medical history.

Mrs Grundy and her husband John, a university lecturer who died 30 years ago, had lived in the area for many years.

A former Mayoress of Hyde, she was to the end a well-known and well-liked face in the area, thanks, in part, to her seemingly boundless energy.

Proud grandmother

With her good friend May Clarke, 91, she had been active with the WRVS, sat as a school governor and on hospital committees, and raised money for local charities.

She was always helping elderly people out... She was amazing. We used to joke that she was fitter than us.

Angela Woodruff
She had enjoyed a close relationship with her daughter and was a proud grandmother.

"She would stay with us for one, two, three weeks several times a year," Mrs Woodruff said in court.

"When I last saw her [in April 1998] she was just as fit as she had ever been. She could walk five miles and then come in and say 'where's the ironing?'

"She would do all her cleaning and gardening. She was always helping elderly people out. She never stopped. She was amazing. We used to joke that she was fitter than us."

Find out more about the Shipman murders

Trial and reaction

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

31 Jan 00 | The Shipman files
31 Jan 00 | The Shipman files
31 Jan 00 | The Shipman files
31 Jan 00 | The Shipman files
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