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Monday, November 15, 1999 Published at 16:11 GMT


Doctor 'lied about having morphine'

Dr Shipman denies murdering 15 female patients

A doctor accused of murdering 15 female patients with morphine claimed to have destroyed a quantity of the drug which was later found at his house, a court has heard.

The morphine found at the home of GP Dr Harold Shipman was prescribed for a patient in July 1995, Mr Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, told the jury at Preston Crown Court.

The Shipman Trial
But the patient's medical record included a handwritten note, initialled with the letters HFS, that the drugs had been destroyed.

Dr Shipman 53, of Roecross Green, Mottram, Greater Manchester, denies murdering 15 women patients with injections of morphine, and forging the will of one of his alleged victims.

The jury was told that Detective Constable Michael Beard and a Home Office inspector visited Dr Shipman's surgery on 14 August last year to look at his practice's drugs register.

[ image: Mrs Grundy: Shipman visited her because she looked
Mrs Grundy: Shipman visited her because she looked "unwell"
Dr Shipman told them that he was aware of the procedure but that since February 1996 he had made a decision not to keep controlled drugs and had no need for a register.

The GP had told them that if a patient needed drugs urgently he would write out a prescription in the patient's name, collect it from the pharmacy, then take it round to the patient.

Subsequent drugs would then be prescribed in the normal manner.

In court, Mr Wright went through a transcript of a police interview following Dr Shipman's arrest on 7 September 1998.

The jury heard that Dr Shipman denied killing Kathleen Grundy, 81.

He then told detectives that he had kept all medical records on a computer in his surgery since he set up the solo practice in 1992.

He added that he sometimes noted down on a piece of paper any embarrassing comments, details for future court cases, or comments that might cause alarm.

[ image: Dr Shipman said he kept all medical records on a computer]
Dr Shipman said he kept all medical records on a computer
The court heard that the detectives went through Mrs Grundy's records and were told that Dr Shipman had taken a blood test on 9 June 1998 because she looked unwell.

He then said that they came back as normal but on 23 June he again saw her at the surgery and she still looked old and unwell.

He arranged to collect another blood sample for more tests the following day - which was the day she died.

Dr Shipman told detectives that he parked his Renault Espace next to Mrs Grundy's house on Joel Lane, Hyde, at around 8am, and that he took a blood sample and left.

He then said he heard from his surgery later that afternoon to say he was needed back at Mrs Grundy's house. He went there to find that she had died.

[ image: Dr Shipman: Recorded the morphine as having been destroyed]
Dr Shipman: Recorded the morphine as having been destroyed
He said he could not remember exactly what he had done without all the relevant notes but said he would have looked at her eyes and checked for a pulse.

Det Sgt Walker, who arrested the GP, said Dr Shipman told police: "This lady was obviously dead but there's a routine to go through. If nothing else it impresses the relatives."

The GP also told police he contacted the coroner's office and asked if old age was satisfactory to put as the cause of death on the death certificate.

In another interview later that night Dr Shipman told detectives again how medical notes were recorded at the surgery.

He also said that Mrs Grundy had suffered from osteoporosis, and that each year he saw all his patients who were over the age of 75 to give them check-ups.

The trial continues.

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