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The BBC's Stephen Cape reports for BBC News
"Dr Shipman denied forging a will"
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The BBC's Kevin Boquet reports
"Dr Shipman was called to give evidence on the 26th day of the trial"
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Friday, 26 November, 1999, 00:09 GMT
Shipman takes the stand
shipman Dr Harold Shipman denies murdering 15 women patients

Doctor Harold Shipman thought that one of the women he is accused of murdering might have been a drug abuser, a court has heard.

The Shipman Trial
The 53-year-old GP, who denies murdering 15 patients with morphine injections, said he suspected that widow Kathleen Grundy, a former mayoress of Hyde, Greater Manchester, had been taking opiates.

Taking the witness box on the 26th day of his trial at Preston Crown Court, Shipman of Mottram, Greater Manchester, said he had treated 81-year-old Mrs Grundy, who joined his practice in 1992, for irritable bowel syndrome.

It had to be something like an opiate - codeine, pethadone - perhaps morphine
Dr Shipman
When she came to see him in October 1996 he noticed that her pupils were small and wrote on her notes: "Query drug use. At her age?"

The GP said that he had noticed similar symptoms on two other occasions, and in July 1997 he had asked her whether she had been taking any other medication.

He said that she denied taking any other medication than he had prescribed.

Despite his suspicions, he said he had not consulted another doctor as he did not think she was at risk.

"I was just being suspicious that she was actually abusing a drug," he said.

"It had to be something like an opiate - codeine, pethadone - perhaps morphine."

Dr Shipman denies murdering Mrs Grundy in June last year and forging her 386,000 will.

He said he had gone to her home and taken blood samples from her on the morning of 24 June - the day of her death - but denied he had given her morphine or diamorphine.

The doctor told the jury that earlier in the month of her death she had come into his surgery, produced some papers and asked if he could witness a signature.

"I jokingly said if it was her will and if she was going to leave me some money I couldn't do it," said the GP.

He said he had not seen exactly what was on the folded piece of paper but he thought he was being asked to sign a will, so got two patients from his waiting room to witness the document for Mrs Grundy.

He added that his fingerprint was on the document because he had pushed it across his desk to return it to her.

Dr Shipman said he thought that she could be leaving him some money for the surgery's patients fund, which was used to buy medical equipment not provided by the NHS.

Defence counsel Nicola Davies QC asked him: "Did you think there were any monies being left specifically to you?"

He said: "No. I thought the patient fund would benefit by one or two hundreds pounds."

The trial was adjourned until Friday.

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See also:
13 Oct 99 |  The Shipman trial
The prosecution case: 15 alleged victims
09 Nov 99 |  UK
GP patients 'had lethal morphine dose'
10 Nov 99 |  UK
Shipman defence attacks morphine theory
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