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BBC's Stephen Cape
"Dr Shipman has always denied the charges against him"
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Wednesday, 5 January, 2000, 18:33 GMT
Shipman 'abused status to kill'

Dr Shipman denies murdering 15 women

Dr Harold Shipman abused the trust his women patients placed in him to murder 15 of them and dupe their grieving relatives, his murder trial has been told.

The Shipman Trial
Prosecuting counsel Richard Henriques QC told the jury at Preston Crown Court that the doctor, 53, told "bare-faced lies" to his alleged vicitms' families to convince them they had died naturally.

But Dr Shipman, of Hyde, Greater Manchester, had been "too arrogant and too self-confident" to even go through the motions of examining his victims after killing them, Mr Henriques said in his closing speech.

He added: "The defendant not only had the opportunity to kill and not only had the means to kill - that is the availability of diamorphine.

"He had the doctor-patient relationship which nobody else had which enabled him to administer diamorphine. You will remember the peaceful mode in which so many died."

Shipman 'too arrogant'

Dr Shipman denies murdering the women and forging the 386,000 will of one of them, 81-year-old former mayoress Kathleen Grundy.

Kathleen Grundy: Shipman's fingerprints were on her will
Mr Henriques said that Dr Shipman had told "bare-faced lies" to grief-stricken relatives to dupe them that their loved ones had suffered natural deaths and that he had called an ambulance.

Four times he lied about the alleged victims telephoning his surgery before they died to give him a pretext of visiting them, said the QC.

There had also been a failure to resuscitate any of the patients.

He added: "There was of course no point - he knew they were dead.

"But he was too arrogant and too self-confident to even go through the motions."

'Trail of murder'

Earlier the QC told the court that it could not be coincidence that 15 women patients died on the same day that the doctor saw them.

There could hardly be some other killer on the loose in Hyde
Richard Henriques
Mr Henriques added: "It is a quite incredible proposition that these 15 ladies could have died a natural death having regard to their state of health prior to facing Dr Shipman."

He added: "They trusted him to care for them. Their relatives trusted him to tell the truth about the circumstances in which his patients died. The community trusted him to keep records and documentation with insight and knowledge.

"We submit he has breached that trust. He did not care at all for these 15 patients he killed."

If relatives of some of the victims had been able to meet and compare notes, Dr Shipman's "trail of murder" could have been halted, he said.

Mr Henriques went on: "While of course sudden deaths do occur, Dr Shipman faces the problem he saw each and every one of these deceased patients on the day that she died.

"Is that a coincidence as he would contend, or are the prosecution accurate when we contend he saw each patient and killed each of them?"

He said only Dr Shipman, as their GP, had been in a position to administer diamorphine.

Mr Henriques said: "There could hardly be some other killer on the loose in Hyde, seeking out Dr Shipman's patients and following the same route as Dr Shipman himself."

'The poisoner fears the pathologist'

He said the reason why Dr Shipman had been determined to avoid post mortem examinations needed no elaboration.

"The poisoner of course fears the pathologist. He fears ambulances and he fears hospitals," said Mr Henriques.

In all of the 15 cases there had not been a single post mortem, a single ambulance called by Dr Shipman, a single proper examination of the patient by him or a single attempt at resuscitation, he said.

The trial, which started in early November, resumed on Wednesday after a break of 22 days.

It was adjourned until Thursday, when Mr Henriques will continue his closing speech.

The judge, Mr Justice Forbes, is expected to start his summing-up to the jury next week.

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See also:
14 Dec 99 |  The Shipman trial
The trial of Dr Harold Shipman
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