Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

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


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.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland

Relevant Stories

09 Nov 99 | UK
GP patients 'had lethal morphine dose'

08 Nov 99 | UK
Doctor 'forged victim's medical history'

02 Nov 99 | UK
Doctor 'made bereaved family feel guilty'

01 Nov 99 | UK
Doctor 'paid victim surprise visit'

28 Oct 99 | UK
Patient 'died during tea with friend'

10 Nov 99 | UK
GP 'saw patients while woman lay dead'

22 Oct 99 | UK
GP 'certified false cause of death'

13 Oct 99 | The Shipman trial
The prosecution case: 15 alleged victims

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online