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Wednesday, November 10, 1999 Published at 16:58 GMT


UK

Shipman defence attacks morphine theory

Harold Shipman denies murdering 15 of his women patients

Morphine in the body of one of Dr Harold Shipman's alleged victims could have come from drugs she was prescribed in the month before her death, a court has heard.

The Shipman Trial
Dr Shipman, 53, of Mottram, Greater Manchester, denies murdering 15 patients and forging the will of one of them.

Cross-examined by the defence, Toxicologist Julie Evans told Preston Crown Court that tablets prescribed to Ivy Lomas in May 1997 could have broken down into morphine.


[ image: Morphine in Joan Melia's stomach
Morphine in Joan Melia's stomach "could have come from slow-releasing morphine tablets"
On Tuesday Mrs Evans said she had found excessive levels of morphine in the body of Kathleen Grundy, 81, Ms Pomfret and Winifred Mellor, 79.

She said her findings were entirely consistent with those seen in deaths attributed to excessive doses of morphine.

Slow-releasing tablets

The jury was told by the defence that Mrs Evans's analysis may have been ground-breaking but it was based on anecdotal evidence and was not definitive.

Mrs Evans told the court she could not say what levels of drugs were in the bodies of the alleged victims when they died, due to various factors such as decomposition.


[ image: Excessive morphine was found in Kathleen Grundy's body]
Excessive morphine was found in Kathleen Grundy's body
Defending, QC Nicola Davies said: "You don't know as a matter of fact where and at what level any drug was in the body at the time of death."

Mrs Evans replied: "That's correct."

Miss Davies also suggested to the court that the morphine found in the stomach of alleged victim Joan Melia, 73, could have come from slow-releasing morphine tablets.

In the case of the youngest alleged victim Bianka Pomfret, 49, Miss Davies told the court that after her death her psychiatrist suspected she could have taken her own life.

The case continues.



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