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Thursday, October 14, 1999 Published at 19:13 GMT 20:13 UK


Will received 'hours before death'

Dr Shipman's one-man fundholding practice

A solicitor was surprised to receive a £400,000 will from Kathleen Grundy on the day she was allegedly murdered by her doctor, a court has heard.

The Shipman Trial
Brian Burgess told the jury at Preston Crown Court that no-one at his firm, Hamilton Ward, of Hyde, Greater Manchester, had ever heard of Mrs Grundy.

The court heard that the will, dated only two days earlier, arrived in Mr Burgess's office about two hours before the 81-year-old's body was found.

Mr Burgess said he thought it was "very strange" that an actual will, rather than a copy, had arrived in his office without anyone knowing about it.

A poorly-punctuated letter with it said "Dear Sir, I would like you. To be the executor of the will," he said.

The BBC's Stephen Cape reports from Preston Crown Court
Doctor Harold Shipman, a Hyde GP, is accused of murdering 15 of his patients and of forging Mrs Grundy's will. He denies all the charges.

Earlier, John Green, the caretaker of the day centre where Mrs Grundy helped run a luncheon club, told the court how he found her lying dead at her home in Hyde.

Mr Green said he and luncheon club helper Ron Pickford drove to Mrs Grundy's home after she failed to arrive.

'Cardiac arrest'

He opened the unlocked door, went into the living room and found Mrs Grundy lying fully-clothed on the sofa.

Dr Shipman was telephoned and arrived 15 to 20 minutes later, he said.

Mr Green said: "He came to where Kathleen was lying on the sofa and felt her hand for a pulse. I asked what was the matter and he said 'Cardiac arrest'."

[ image: Kathleen Grundy: Ex-mayoress of Hyde left estate worth £400,000]
Kathleen Grundy: Ex-mayoress of Hyde left estate worth £400,000
Mr Green added that he asked Dr Shipman whether he had seen Mrs Grundy earlier that morning and the doctor had said: "Yes, only for a talk."

The doctor told the men to contact Hamilton Ward, said Mr Green.

Mrs Grundy's close friend May Clarke, 91, told the court that Mrs Grundy had thought very highly of Dr Shipman.

She said Mrs Grundy had known the GP for a long time and had sat on a community health committee with him.

The month before her death she had suggested a donation to Dr Shipman's patient fund by the Mayoress's Appeal Committee.

But she later rejected the idea because the fund was not a public charity.

"She thought he was a good doctor," Mrs Clarke said.

"She admired his work. All his patients thought highly of Dr Shipman, not just Mrs Grundy."

'Morphine overdose'

Mrs Clarke told the court that the day before she died, her friend had said she was impressed that Dr Shipman was to come and visit her the following morning to take a blood sample.

"She thought it was very good of him to go along to her home to save her the trouble of going to the surgery," said Mrs Clarke.

The Home Office pathologist who examined Mrs Grundy's exhumed body, Dr John Rutherford, said he found the cause of death to be an overdose of morphine.

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

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