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Tuesday, October 19, 1999 Published at 18:36 GMT 19:36 UK


Shipman patient was poisoned - pathologist

Dr Shipman denies 15 counts of murder

The youngest alleged victim of Dr Harold Shipman could only have died from morphine poisoning, the murder jury has heard.

Preston Crown Court was told that Dr Shipman certified the death of manic depressive Bianka Pomfret, 49, as due to coronary thrombosis and ischaemic heart disease.

The Shipman Trial
He also cited smoking and chronic manic depression as contributory factors, but these were all rejected by a Home Office pathologist.

[ image: Bianka Pomfret was found dead on her settee]
Bianka Pomfret was found dead on her settee
Dr John Rutherford told the court that Mrs Pomfret, a divorcee, had died from the toxic effects of morphine.

He said: "There is no pathological evidence of any other cause of death other than morphine poisoning."

The 53-year-old doctor of Roe Cross Green, Mottram, near Hyde, Greater Manchester denies murdering 15 women and forging the will of Mrs Kathleen Grundy.

His alleged victims ranged in age from 49 to 81-years-old.

Psychiatric problems

Mrs Pomfret's ex-husband, Adrian, told the jury that he saw her three days before her death.

The BBC's Crime Correspondent Stephen Cape reports on the trial of Dr. Shipman
She had long-standing psychiatric problems and was visited regularly by care workers. At the time she was recovering from flu.

"She appeared to be a bit run down," said Mr Pomfret, who was divorced from her in 1995 after 19 years of marriage.

"She had the flu and felt very tired and had done for a few weeks."

She had been to see Dr Shipman and was due to see him again that week. He had been her GP since the early 1980s.

Dead on the settee

Care worker Susan Adshead said in a statement that she called at Mrs Pomfret's home on the afternoon of 10 December and got no reply.

She could see Mrs Pomfret through the living room window sitting on the settee.

[ image: Dr Shipman's surgery in Hyde]
Dr Shipman's surgery in Hyde
She called on Mrs Pomfret's son, William, who lived nearby and followed him into the house through the unlocked door.

"I noticed she was wearing her day clothing," said Ms Adshead. "She was leaning against the settee, sitting up and had her hands on her lap. Her head was on one side. She almost seemed relaxed."

Dr Shipman came to the house and said he had seen Mrs Pomfret earlier that day because she had been unwell.

Crime Correspondent Kevin Bocquet reports from Preston Crown Court
"Dr Shipman told myself and William that he thought Bianka had had a heart attack," said Ms Adshead.

William Pomfret told the jury that he asked Dr Shipman what had happened and was told his mother had died of a heart attack.

"He said she was suffering from angina. He asked if I knew my mum had suffered from angina. I said no, never."

Fit and active

[ image: Kathleen Grundy:
Kathleen Grundy: "Fit and active"
Earlier the jury heard the end of more than four days of evidence about the death of Mrs Grundy, whose £386,000 will Dr Shipman allegedly forged.

Mrs Grundy was found dead in her living room at her home after failing to attend a luncheon club.

Dr Shipman was not justified in certifying old age as the cause of Mrs Grundy's death, an independent GP told the murder trial.

Dr John Grenville, called by the prosecution, told the court: "There was no evidence at all Mrs Grundy was frail.

"There was no evidence she had been ill for some time with major system failure.

"She was a fit and active lady. Under these circumstances I do not believe it was justifiable to certify the cause of death as old age."

The case continues.

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