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Monday, 6 December, 1999, 19:04 GMT
GP denies 'means and opportunity' to kill
shipman Dr Harold Shipman denies murdering 15 women patients

A family doctor accused of murdering 15 women patients has denied having "both the means and opportunity" to kill.

The Shipman Trial
At his trial at Preston Crown Court, Dr Shipman told Richard Henriques QC, prosecuting, he had access to the home of wealthy Kathleen Grundy.

But he denied having access to diamorphine, an overdose of which killed the 81-year-old.

Dr Shipman, 53, of Mottram, near Hyde, Greater Manchester, denies murdering Mrs Grundy and 14 other patients. He also denies forging Mrs Grundy's 386,000 will.

Resuming the trial on Monday, Mr Henriques asked the doctor: "You, Dr Shipman, had both the means and opportunity to kill Kathleen Grundy, didn't you?"

Kathleen Grundy Kathleen Grundy allegedly died of diamorphine poisoning
"I don't think I did, and I didn't," he replied.

Dr Shipman said he was unable to explain the disappearance of six ampoules of diamorphine missing from a box of 10, originally prescribed for a patient who had died.

The box containing the drug was found at his home.

'Chest pains'

Dr Shipman was asked about another alleged victim, 49-year-old Bianka Pomfret, who was found dead at her home in Hyde shortly after he visited.

He said Mrs Pomfret had only told him she had been suffering from chest pains on the day she died.

Mr Henriques asked Dr Shipman why, after her death, he had not told her family of her "remarkable" revelation.

Dr Shipman, on his eighth day in the witness box, replied: "Because I asked them if they knew she had chest pains. If they had known I would then have asked why she had not told me about it".

The GP made 10 entries on his computer relating to Mrs Pomfret between visiting her at home and her body being found, the court heard.

He admitted that one of the entries, which gave the divorcee's blood pressure reading backdated to April, was a mistake.

"You didn't make a mistake, you made it up," challenged Mr Henriques.

He said it was not the only mistake on the medical records, adding that Dr Shipman had recorded Mrs Pomfret as smoking 40 cigarettes a day, four times what her son William said she smoked.

'Thready pulse'

Mr Henriques asked Dr Shipman: "This lady did not have any symptoms of angina at all did she?"

"Yes, she had," he replied.

He also denied telling Mrs Pomfret's psychiatrist, Dr Alan Tate, on the day after her death that he had detected a "thready pulse" when he examined her.

Mr Henriques said Dr Tate was anxious about Mrs Pomfret's death because she had talked several times about taking her own life and he put it to Dr Shipman: "This was a very dangerous situation for you, wasn't it, Dr Tate expressing concern that this was suicide?"

"No, he wasn't," said the GP.

Dr Shipman admitted if Dr Tate had suspected suicide there would have been a post-mortem examination.

Mr Henriques said: "You had to put on your best persuasive boots didn't you, and make sure that he didn't inform the coroner, because you knew what the consequences would have been?"

'Browbeating and bludgeoning'

"No," said the doctor.

Dr Shipman was accused of "browbeating" and "bludgeoning" relatives of his alleged victims to persuade them against demanding post-mortems.

Mr Henriques described his attitude towards the family of Winifred Mellor, 73, as "uncaring and insensitive" when he visited a few hours after her death.

He said the whole reason for the visit was "to make sure there was no post mortem examination."

Dr Shipman said he had mentioned the possibility of a post mortem and said Mrs Mellor's relatives may not have heard because they were "completely stressed and in a state of shock".

He also denied evidence from Father Denis Maher that he had told him Mrs Mellor had telephoned his surgery earlier that day.

"I did not. I am afraid the priest didn't hear properly what I was saying," said Dr Shipman.

He said: "I don't think I was unkind. I think I was reasonably compassionate and answered his questions as best I could."

But Mr Henriques said: "You were trying to bludgeon this family into accepting your cause of death and making sure there was no post mortem examination."

"No to the first part and no to the second part," replied the GP.

The trial continues
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See also:
01 Dec 99 |  UK
Murder trial doctor weeps
02 Dec 99 |  UK
Shipman trial delayed by illness
30 Nov 99 |  UK
Patient 'died during chat with GP'
29 Nov 99 |  UK
GP 'decided not to resuscitate patient'
26 Nov 99 |  UK
Shipman admits back-dating records
25 Nov 99 |  UK
Shipman takes the stand
10 Nov 99 |  UK
Shipman defence attacks morphine theory
13 Oct 99 |  The Shipman trial
The prosecution case: 15 alleged victims
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