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Friday, October 29, 1999 Published at 20:18 GMT 21:18 UK


'Shipman declared live patient dead'

All the alleged victims were patients at Dr Shipman's surgery

One of Dr Harold Shipman's alleged victims still had a pulse as he declared her dead, his multiple-murder trail has heard.

Betty Adams's dancing partner of 17 years told the jury at Preston Crown Court she had a pulse, and was still warm after Dr Shipman told him: "She's gone."

The Shipman Trial
Bill Catlow had let himself into 77-year-old Mrs Adams's home in Hyde, Greater Manchester on 28 February, 1997 after she told him to drop in.

He told the court he had found Dr Shipman in the living room admiring her display cabinet.

Dr Shipman told him Mrs Adams, who was in a chair by the fireside, was very ill and he said he had called an ambulance.

They then both went over to her, and Dr Shipman said she had died.

[ image: Dr Shipman denies 15 murders]
Dr Shipman denies 15 murders
Mr Catlow told prosecuting counsel Peter Wright QC: "I said: 'She can't have, I can feel her pulse' and he said 'No, that's yours. I'll cancel the ambulance'."

The jury had earlier heard no calls were made from the house to Greater Manchester Ambulance Service to either cancel or order an ambulance.

Mr Catlow told the jury he and Mrs Adams had only just returned from a holiday to Malta with the local church group.

He said she had been suffering from a slight cold.

Medical expert Dr John Grenville told the court if a pulse had been felt Mrs Adams, who was cremated, should have been examined and attempts at resuscitation should have been made.

'Slight cough'

The court then heard Dr Shipman told Mrs Adams's daughter, Doreen Thorley, that her mother had died from chronic pneumonia, and she should have spent more time with her.

Giving evidence, the daughter said her mother had been a fit and active woman, and they had spent the day before her death shopping in the nearby town of Stockport.

Mrs Thorley said Dr Shipman had telephoned her at work to say he was sending Mrs Adams to hospital with chronic pneumonia. She rushed straight round to her mother's house where Shipman told her: "She's just passed away."

The witness described Dr Shipman's manner as quite abrupt.

He told her there was no need for a post-mortem and that the death certificate would be prepared for her to collect.

'You trust your doctor, don't you?'

Mrs Adams's other daughter Sonia Jones told the court she asked the doctor if a post-mortem was needed because the death was so sudden.

"He said that there did not need to be because he was there when she died and he knew what was wrong with her," she said.

Dr Shipman, 53, of Mottram, Hyde, Greater Manchester, denies killing Lizzie Adams, known as Betty, and murdering 14 other patients.

He also denies forging the will of one of his victims.

The trial was adjourned until Monday.

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