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The BBC's Stephen Cape reports from Preston
"Mr Shipman admitted back-dating entries"
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Friday, 26 November, 1999, 19:30 GMT
Shipman admits back-dating records
shipman Dr Harold Shipman denies murdering 15 women patients

The doctor accused of murdering 15 of his patients had admitted back-dating patient's medical records.

But Dr Harold Shipman, who denies 15 charges of murder and one of forgery, said he knew other doctors who did the same.

The Shipman Trial
He said he was aware the computer system had an audit trail which meant back-dated entries would still show the exact dates when they were made, and said he had not intended to mislead anyone.

Two of Dr Harold Shipman's alleged murder victims complained of chest pains on the days they died, he told his trial at Preston Crown Court.

Giving evidence for the second day, the GP told the jury at Preston Crown Court both Bianka Pomfret and Winifred Mellor had not mentioned possible angina until shortly before they died.

Dr Shipman said German divorcee Mrs Pomfret, 49, had not taken chest pain seriously because it came and went, but had twice asked for a home visit before her death on 10 December 1997.

The GP visited her home between 1.30pm and 2pm and said: "She told me that she had some chest pains, she had pain going up to her jaw and in her left arm.

"I was upset by Bianka because she hadn't trusted me enough to tell me about the pain."

Dr Shipman, 53, said Mrs Pomfret smoked around 40 cigarettes a day.

Bianka Pomfret Bianka Pomfret: "No doubt she died of heart attack"
He said: "A patient who has heart disease and who smokes is silly and is looking to die."

The court heard that Mrs Pomfret was found collapsed by a care worker that evening and that Dr Shipman was called to examine the body.

He said he had no doubt that she died from a heart attack because of the pain she had described earlier.

Dr Shipman dismissed suggestions that she had taken her own life and denied he had given her a dose of morphine or diamorphine.

Angina-like symptoms

Dr Shipman went on to say 73-year-old Mrs Mellor had also complained of chest pains shortly before her death.

He said Mrs Mellor, from Hyde, visited his surgery on the day of her death in May 1998 suffering from angina-like symptoms.

Dr Shipman said she had first experienced chest pains in August 1997, but did not report it until months afterwards.

He said he asked her ring the surgery later that day after discussing a referral to a consultant with her family.

I was upset by Bianka because she hadn't trusted me enough to tell me about the pain
Dr Harold Shipman
When Mrs Mellor failed to telephone, Dr Shipman said he decided to visit her where he saw her through the window apparently asleep in a chair.

Using a key collected from a neighbour, he entered the house and pronounced Mrs Mellor dead.

He denied he had called at the house earlier that day, as the prosecution alleged, and said he had not murdered her.

The court then heard how Dr Shipman saw alleged victim Joan Melia, 73, in her surgery for a bad cough hours before her death.

Winifred Mellor: Winifred Mellor: Dr Shipman says he found her dead when he visited her home
The doctor said he sent her home and told her to take plenty of fluids, but the divorcee was found dead later that day.

Dr Shipman recorded the cause of death as lobar pneumonia, saying that although fewer than 5% of people actually died of the condition, those who did often died very quickly.

He denies 15 charges of murder and one of forging the will of one of his alleged victims.

The trial was adjourned until Monday.

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See also:
25 Nov 99 |  UK
Shipman takes the stand
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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