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BBC News' Stephen Cape
"Defence claims that the case against the GP is based on unreliable evidence"
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Thursday, 6 January, 2000, 18:44 GMT
Shipman had 'no motive'

Dr Shipman denies murdering 15 women

Family GP Dr Harold Shipman had no motive for the 15 murders he is accused of, his murder trial has heard.

The Shipman Trial
In her closing speech to the jury, Dr Shipman's defence counsel Nicola Davies QC told Preston Crown Court that the case against the doctor was based on unreliable scientific evidence.

The QC said that during the weeks and months of evidence one thing the prosecution had failed to raise was a motive.

"Why should this doctor murder 15 of his patients?" she asked.

Kathleen Grundy: Forging her will was Dr Shipman's big mistake, say the prosecution
"In the opening of his case for the crown Mr Henriques suggested there was a power motive behind the actions of Dr Shipman. Where is the evidence? No psychiatrist has been called.

"We are not here to consider psychological theories. What we are here to consider is proof."

Dr Shipman, of Hyde, Greater Manchester, denies poisoning 15 women patients with morphine and forging the 386,000 will of one of them - former Mayoress Kathleen Grundy.

Poison tests 'unreliable'

Ms Davies said the entire case against the doctor foundered on the unreliability of tests for poison carried out on the bodies of Dr Shipman's alleged victims.

"The prosecution case is built on one foundation stone and that is toxicology. Without it there would be no case. Toxicology is a new science and untested by proven scientific methods," she said.

"We contend that it is inherently unreliable and therefore unsafe, and without that toxicological evidence, all that flows from it, that you are asked to draw inferences, fail."

She reminded the jury that forensic scientist Julie Evans had told them that she was embarking on "novel scientific territory" and that she was "breaking new ground" when she began working on the case.

Sinister behaviour

The court heard that neither the evidence relating to Shipman's behaviour nor the toxicological evidence could stand alone.

The actions of Dr Shipman are not sinister - they are part of his everyday practice
Nicola Davies QC

Miss Davies said the prosecution was using examples of Shipman's actions to "shore up the unreliability of the scientific evidence".

She said: "It's our contention that the behaviour only becomes sinister if you are satisfied as to the toxicology.

"The actions of Dr Shipman are not sinister - they are part of his everyday practice."

She said Dr Shipman, with a patient list of 3,100, had been a caring general medical practitioner since the 1970s.

And she said Dr Shipman was so caring he cold-called his patients and visited them at home so they did not have to come to the surgery.

'Author of own critique'

Earlier on Thursday, the court heard from prosecuting counsel Richard Henriques QC that Dr Shipman told "many lies" in documents and in interviews with the police.

"Nor should his achievement be underestimated - but for the forging of Mrs Grundy's will, he would have avoided detection," he said.

Dr Shipman was "the author of his own critique" when he told the district nurse the only mistake he made was not having Mrs Grundy, the last of his alleged victims, cremated, Mr Henriques said.

He went on: "It is on the evidence that we submit he is guilty of each and every count of this indictment."

The trial was adjourned until Friday.

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See also:
05 Jan 00 |  UK
Shipman 'abused status to kill'
14 Dec 99 |  The Shipman trial
The trial of Dr Harold Shipman
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