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Tuesday, October 12, 1999 Published at 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK


GP 'murdered women for enjoyment'

Dr Shipman: Denied all charges

A family doctor murdered 15 of his women patients because he enjoyed it, a court has been told.

Opening the trial of Manchester GP Harold Shipman, Richard Henriques QC, prosecuting, told Preston Crown Court, the 53-year-old doctor killed his victims with morphine injections because he was "exercising the ultimate power of controlling life and death".

The BBC's Stephen Cape: "Prosecution alleged he enjoyed killing his patients"
Dr Shipman, of Tameside, Greater Manchester has pleaded not guilty to 15 murders between March 1995 and June last year. He also denies forging the will of one of his alleged victims.

Mr Henriques said: "The prosecution allege that he has murdered 15 of his patients by administering to them substantial doses of morphine shortly before they died, thereby causing their deaths."

Bodies exhumed

The Shipman Trial
While six of the victims were cremated, the bodies of those exhumed showed a significant presence of morphine, Mr Henriques said.

He said: "None of those buried, nor indeed cremated, were prescribed morphine or diamorphine. All of them died most unexpectedly. All of them had seen Dr Shipman on the day of their death."

Mr Henriques said none of the victims had been suffering a terminal illness so there could be "no question" of Mr Shipman's alleged actions being a case of euthanasia or mercy killing.

He told the jury of seven men and five women: "The defendant killed those 15 patients because in the submission of the prosecution, he enjoyed doing so."

"He was exercising the ultimate power of controlling life and death and repeated the act so often he must have found the drama of taking life to his taste."

'Altered medical records'

In the case of Kathleen Grundy, Dr Shipman had also forged a will in which she left her 400,000 estate to him, said Mr Henriques.

He also allegedly altered her medical records to suggest she had been a drug abuser.

Mr Henriques said: "When it became clear that Dr Shipman was responsible for the forgery the body was exhumed and substantial amounts of morphine were found in her thigh, liver and blood.

"Other exhumations followed and then consideration was given to cases in which the deceased were cremated."

Mrs Grundy's will read: "I leave all my estate, money and house to my doctor. My family are not in need and I want to reward him for all the care he has given to the people of Hyde."

Daughter became suspicious

But her daughter, solicitor Angela Woodruff, became suspicious and contacted the police.

The jury was told the typescript on Mrs Grundy's will was expertly examined and compared with typescript produced using a Brother typewriter recovered by police from Dr Shipman's surgery.

Mr Henriques said the experts concluded the will had probably been typed out using the same typewriter.

He said a fingerprint found on the will belonged to Dr Shipman.

The trial continues. It is expected to last at least three months.

Dr Shipman is charged with killing:

  • Marie West, 81, on 6 March, 1995
  • Irene Turner, 67, on 11 July, 1996
  • Lizzie Adams, 77, on 28 February, 1997
  • Jean Lilley, 59, on 25 April, 1997
  • Ivy Lomas, 63, on 29 May, 1997
  • Muriel Grimshaw, 76, on 14 July, 1997
  • Marie Quinn, 67, on 24 November, 1997
  • Kathleen (Laura) Wagstaff, 81, on 9 December 1997
  • Bianka Pomfret, 49, on 10 December, 1997
  • Norah Nuttall, 65, on 26 January, 1998
  • Pamela Hillier, 68, on 9 February, 1998
  • Maureen Ward, 57, on 18 February, 1998
  • Winifred Mellor, 73 on 11 May, 1998
  • Joan Melia, 73, on 12 June, 1998
  • Kathleen Grundy, 81, on 24 June, 1998

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