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Friday, 7 January, 2000, 18:14 GMT
'No case' against Shipman

Dr Shipman denies murdering 15 women


A woman who GP Harold Shipman is alleged to have killed with a lethal dose of morphine could already have had the drug in her body, his lawyer has told his murder trial.

The Shipman Trial
The prosecution has alleged Dr Shipman injected Ivy Lomas, 63, with morphine at his surgery.

But Nicola Davies QC, in her closing speech for the defence, said there was a more likely explanation for Mrs Lomas' sudden death.

She told the jury at Preston Crown Court that Mrs Lomas had been prescribed a painkiller, which breaks down into morphine, before her death at the Market Street surgery in Hyde, Greater Manchester, in May 1997.

Miss Davies said the drug pholcodine exacerbated her pre-existing heart condition and went on: "That being the case, there is no case against Dr Shipman."

'Tight window of time'

The QC also said it was "impossible" for the 53-year-old doctor to have murdered another of his patients - Marie Quinn, 67 - because "there wasn't enough time."

She said Dr Shipman's computerised medical notes and Mrs Quinn's itemised telephone bill showed a "very tight window of time" for the alleged murder to be carried out.

Bianka Pomfret: "Had suicidal thoughts"
The QC also questioned the reliability of evidence given by some of the prosecution witnesses.

She said one policeman made a statement over a year after the event with only brief notes to refer to, while the memories of close friends and relatives of the deceased may have been affected by the distress they suffered when their loved ones died.

Miss Davies also said forensic evidence may also not have provided all the information needed because the exhumed bodies were too decomposed.

She had told the jury on Thursday the foundation stone of the prosecution's case was toxicology - but the tests conducted were "unreliable and unsafe".

Joan Melia: "Cannot be sure how she died"
Referring to the count relating to Joan Melia, 73, Miss Davies said: "You cannot be satisfied, so you are sure, as to how this lady died."

Denies all charges

She suggested that the youngest alleged victim, Bianka Pomfret, 49, had suicidal thoughts two days before her death.

Dr Shipman, of Mottram, near Hyde, Greater Manchester, has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him, including forging the will of one of his alleged 15 victims, wealthy former mayoress Kathleen Grundy, 81.

Concluding her speech, Miss Davies said: "In relation to the 15 counts of murder the prosecution wholly rely on the base findings of toxicology.

"And in the context of these cases that is based on scientific evidence.

Marie Quinn: "Not enough time to kill her"
"Our submission to you is that the scientific evidence is unsafe and unreliable.

"It is our submission to you that because of the inherently unreliable nature of the scientific evidence that is the very basis, the Crown's case has to go.

"In the absence of such evidence, the inferences to be drawn from it relating to the behaviour of the doctor by the Crown also fail - and with it so does the entirety of it."

The trial was adjourned until Monday, when the judge is expected to begin his summing up. The jury is not expected to retire until the following week.

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See also:
06 Jan 00 |  UK
Shipman had 'no motive'
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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