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Wednesday, October 13, 1999 Published at 18:43 GMT 19:43 UK


Daughter's suspicions 'led to doctor's arrest'

Dr Shipman denies 15 counts of murder

Detective work by the daughter of one of Doctor Harold Shipman's 15 alleged victims led to his arrest, a court has heard.

The Shipman Trial
Angela Woodruff, a 54-year-old solicitor, told Preston Crown Court she was concerned when she found her mother Kathleen Grundy had changed her will, leaving her entire estate to Dr Shipman.

Mrs Woodruff, who works in Warwick, Warwickshire, told the jury she was notified of her mother's death on 24 July 1998.

The following day she went to her mother's home in Hyde to arrange the funeral and sort out her affairs, she said. She also visited Dr Shipman's surgery.

The BBC's Stephen Cape: "During cross examination she broke down"
"Dr Shipman told us that he had seen my mother the previous day before her death for a routine thing. He said it was at his surgery - he didn't say what it was for," Mrs Woodruff told the court.

"He said that she had conveyed to him that she was feeling unwell. He mentioned, but was vague about, chest pains."

The doctor told her that he had visited her mother on the morning of her death to take a blood sample, she said.

[ image: Angela Woodruff outside Preston Crown Court]
Angela Woodruff outside Preston Crown Court
"He wasn't specific about my mother but he did say that sometimes old people complain about feeling unwell before they die and then they simply die. He implied it was old age but didn't actually say it," added Mrs Woodruff.

Mrs Woodruff told the jury it was two weeks later when she saw the new will her mother had allegedly made that she started to worry.

She told the court how her mother had never mentioned the second will which was lodged with the Hyde solicitors Hamilton Ward.

"I became very concerned. It was badly typed and my mother was meticulously tidy. The whole thing was just unbelievable, leaving everything to her doctor.

'Strange signature'

"It was inconceivable the thought of her signing a document which was badly typed."

Mrs Woodruff also said that her mother's signature did not look right - it looked strange and was too big.

After speaking to the people who had "witnessed" the new will, she handed over the original will, diaries, a repeat prescription and her mother's driving licence to police to check against the new will for forgery, she said.

Under cross-examination by defence counsel Nicola Davies QC, Mrs Woodruff said: "I had suspicions about the will and I started to have suspicions about my mother's death although it was hard to believe."

During the questioning Mrs Woodruff broke down, clutching the side of the witness box.

She told Miss Davies that she had handed six blue capsules found in her mother's handbag to the police. When asked if she had found any other medication in the house she said she was "too upset to go through her mother's things".


Miss Davies told the court that the Woodruff family was not in financial need as her husband had recently inherited his father's £1.3m estate.

The final witness of the day, Detective Sergeant Bob Hampson of Greater Manchester Police, told the court that when he visited Dr Shipman's surgery the GP handed over a Brother typewriter which the prosecution allege was used to produce the false will.

The GP said Mrs Grundy had often borrowed it, Mr Hampson told the jury.

Dr Shipman, 53, of Hyde, Greater Manchester, denies murdering 15 of his patients and forging Mrs Grundy's will.

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

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