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Friday, 10 December, 1999, 18:51 GMT
GP 'fabricated' cremation forms

Dr Shipman denies the murder of 15 female patients

The family GP accused of murdering 15 of his patients has told a jury he could offer no explanation why he made two false entries on a cremation form for one of his alleged victims.

The Shipman Trial
Richard Henriques, QC, prosecuting, said Dr Harold Shipman deliberately made the mistakes to ensure that Maureen Ward, 57, was cremated.

Preston Crown Court was told that on the document Dr Shipman said he had treated Miss Ward for cancer - which he put down as the cause of death - for two months before she passed away.

But Mr Henriques said Dr Shipman had seen Miss Ward only the day before her death and had not been treating her for a brain tumour.

Dr Shipman, 53, of Hyde, Greater Manchester, denies murdering 15 of his women patients and forging the will of one of them.

Mr Henriques said the cremation form claimed that Miss Ward was found at her sheltered home at Ogden Court in Hyde by the warden. It also said the warden was there when she died.

'Terrible mistake'

He put it to Dr Shipman: "You know full well that the warden at Ogden Court was not there."

"Yes," replied the GP.

"Then why did you put it on that certificate?"

"I don't know," said Dr Shipman.

Mr Henriques said: "It wasn't a terrible mistake was it?"

"I don't know," he repeated.

Mr Henriques suggested it was a "calculated deception".

Dr Shipman said: "No."

The doctor admitted it was he who found Miss Ward and not the warden.

Maureen Ward Maureen Ward: Mistakes on her cremation form
Mr Henriques asked if he had been drinking when he made the records following Miss Ward's death on 18 February 1998.

"Not that I was aware of," said Dr Shipman.

Mr Henriques said if the defendant had written on the form that was nobody present when Miss Ward died it would have been treated as a sudden death and a post-mortem examination would have been necessary.

'Destroying the evidence'

"If it had been reported to the coroner, it would have resulted in a post mortem," conceded Dr Shipman.

"A post mortem examination would have been a disaster for you wouldn't it? You were able by bringing about the cremation to destroy the evidence of morphine in the body," said Mr Henriques.

Dr Shipman said: "I didn't."

The GP had earlier told the court he found Miss Ward dead when he visited to drop off an appointment letter to the hospital.

Dr Shipman was also accused of stockpiling vast quantities of diamorphine - commonly known as heroin - and using it to kill 11 of his patients.

Mr Henriques said Dr Shipman prescribed the powerful painkiller to patients who did not need it and in two cases to patients who had already died.

The jury was told that 12,000mg of the drug were dispensed on 6 June 1996 for Keith Harrison, who had already died.

Seventeen months later another patient was prescribed diamorphine which he did not receive - but during this period five of Dr Shipman's patients died, the court was told.

Asked if it was a coincidence, the GP said: "One has got nothing to do with another."

'Pre-emptive purchasing'

Mr Henriques said another patient, Lionel Hutchinson, was prescribed two batches of 1,000mg, one in November 1997 and one in January 1998, even though the GP conceded he did not yet need them.

Dr Shipman said it was "pre-emptive prescribing" and he had allowed the patient to keep one batch at home and the other at his holiday caravan in Blackpool.

"You were adding to your stockpiling of another 2,000mg," said Mr Henriques, who asked if it was "mere" coincidence that following Mr Hutchinson's first prescription six more of Dr Shipman's alleged victims had died.

The trial was adjourned until Monday.

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See also:
09 Dec 99 |  UK
Shipman admits not calling ambulance
08 Dec 99 |  UK
Murder trial GP denies stockpiling morphine
07 Dec 99 |  UK
Shipman accused of 'bare-faced lie'
06 Dec 99 |  UK
GP denies 'means and opportunity' to kill
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