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Monday, November 1, 1999 Published at 17:41 GMT


Doctor 'paid victim surprise visit'

Harold Shipman denies murdering 15 of his women patients

Doctor Harold Shipman paid one of his alleged victims a surprise visit less than an hour before she was found dead in her home, a murder trial has heard.

Kathleen Wagstaff, 81, had seemed pleased to see the doctor when he arrived at her flat in Hyde, Greater Manchester, her neighbour Margaret Walker told Preston Crown Court.

The Shipman Trial
Mrs Walker said she had a brief conversation with a man standing at Mrs Wagstaff's door - whom she later learned was Dr Shipman - before her neighbour, who seemed perfectly normal, answered the door.

Mrs Walker said she then went out on an errand, and returned three quarters of an hour later to the news Mrs Wagstaff was dead.

Dr Shipman, 53, of Mottram, near Hyde, denies murdering 15 of his women patients and forging the £386,000 will of one of them.

[ image: Kathleen Wagstaff
Kathleen Wagstaff "seemed perfectly normal"
The Crown allege that on the day of Mrs Wagstaff's death there was no record of any visit in Dr Shipman's visiting book, and the surgery diary showed no record of an appointment for Mrs Wagstaff.

Mrs Wagstaff's daughter-in-law told the court of her shock when she was wrongly told by Dr Shipman that it was her own mother who had died.

Angela Wagstaff said Dr Shipman had arrived at Dowson County Primary School in Hyde where she was a teacher, and told her he had been called to her mother's house, and that she had died while he was there.

Mrs Wagstaff told the court she ran to her mother's home - and found her alive and well.

It was only after calling Dr Shipman's surgery that she discovered it was in fact her mother-in-law who had died, she said.

'Apologised for mix-up'

The following day she and her husband saw Dr Shipman in his surgery, where he apologised for the "mix-up".

She said Dr Shipman had asked her husband if he had known that his mother had suffered from heart problems to which her husband replied he had "no idea".

Independent GP Dr John Grenville, called as an expert witness by the prosecution, said from the medical records he was unable to find any evidence that she was suffering from the heart disease that was listed as being linked to the coronary thrombosis certified by Dr Shipman as the cause of death.

[ image: Norah Nuttall seemed
Norah Nuttall seemed "very smart" on day of her death
The son of another of Dr Shipman's alleged victims, 65-year-old Norah Nuttall, told the court how after leaving his mother in her home for less than an hour he had returned to find Dr Shipman on the doorstep and his mother lying dead in a chair.

Mrs Nuttall died in her home in Gee Cross, Hyde, on 26 January 1998.

John Nuttall said he knew his mother had seen Dr Shipman earlier that day at his surgery because she had been troubled with a cough and he had prescribed her some medicine.

He said when he arrived back at her home Dr Shipman was there and told him his mother was "not so well" and he had called an ambulance.

After the pair went back inside the house, he said Dr Shipman told him his mother was dead.

Dr Shipman then allegedly went to cancel the ambulance.

Earlier, Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, produced telephone records showing that no calls were made to the ambulance service from Mrs Nuttall's home on that day.

In a statement to the court, a close friend of Mrs Nuttall, Ann Robinson, told how she had seen the alleged victim just a few hours before her death in Hyde shopping centre.

She said: "She looked all right, in fact she seemed better than I had seen her in a long time. She seemed very smart."

The trial continues.

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