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Monday, November 8, 1999 Published at 22:02 GMT


Doctor 'forged victim's medical history'

Harold Shipman denies murdering 15 of his women patients

Family GP Harold Shipman created a false medical history for one of the 15 women patients he is accused of murdering, a court has heard.

The Shipman Trial
The jury at Preston Crown Court was told Dr Shipman wrote on Maureen Ward's medical record that she was unwell before her death in February 1998.

Her computer records stated she had suffered headaches and nausea in December 1997 and early 1998.

Richard Henriques, QC, prosecuting, said a computer entry dated 17 December 1997, described how Miss Ward, 57, of Hyde, Greater Manchester, had complained of headaches, and that she was to notify the local hospital.

But it was made on the day of her death - 18 February 1998, the court was told. Dr Shipman gave the cause of her death as cancer.

The BBC's Stephen Cape: On Tuesday the jury will hear from expert witnesses
The jury was told that on the day of her death Miss Ward, 57, was in good spirits and had been looking forward to a Caribbean cruise with her friend Mary France.

The court heard that Miss Ward was taking medication for breast cancer and had received treatment for skin cancer - but was currently in the clear.

[ image: Maureen Ward:
Maureen Ward: "Looking forward to Caribbean holiday"
Mr Andrew King, a consultant neurosurgeon at Hope Hospital, Salford, Greater Manchester, told the court it would not have been possible for the GP to diagnose the cancer without a post-mortem or scan.

After examining Miss Ward's medical records he said he would have expected her to have suffered a variety of symptoms including loss of concentration, lethargy, and drowsiness before her death.

"To go from being entirely well, having booked a holiday and being in good spirits, is not something one would expect from someone with cancer throughout their body," he said.

Dr Shipman, 53, of Mottram, is accused of murdering 15 patients and forging the will of one of them. He denies all the charges.

The court heard how Miss Ward, a higher education teacher, was found dead in her sheltered home by Dr Shipman.

'Very shocked'

Warden Christine Simpson told Preston Crown Court despite having to pass through two secure doors the GP claimed he walked in and found Maureen "dead on the bed".

Mrs Simpson told the court on the morning of 18 February 1998 she had seen Miss Ward briefly.

But around 3.30pm she answered a knock at the door from Mr Shipman who said he had found Miss Ward dead.

Mrs Simpson said: "I was very, very surprised, very shocked. I said `I can't believe it'. He said to me: `She did have a brain tumour you know'. He said she had had it for a long time."

As the pair walked over to Miss Ward's flat she asked Mr Shipman how he had got in.

He replied the door had been left open on the latch - something Miss Ward had not done before.

'No call made to ambulance service'

Mr Shipman had an envelope in his hand and told Mrs Simpson he was expected as he was delivering a hospital appointment letter.

Mrs Simpson found Miss Ward, who was a nursery nurse teacher, lying on her bed fully clothed.

The jury then heard that Shipman had recorded Mrs Simpson as being present at the time of death but Mrs Simpson said this was untrue and she was alerted to Miss Ward's death by Shipman.

In his medical records, some of which were back dated, Shipman described how Miss Ward had had a fit in an ambulance - but the court was told that no call to the ambulance service was made from Miss Ward's flat.

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