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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 November 2005, 17:14 GMT
Family shocked by accused doctor
Dr Howard Martin
Dr Howard Martin arrives at court for his trial for murder
A GP accused of murdering patients gave a cancer sufferer three morphine jabs before telling his family he would not get out of bed again, a court heard.

Dr Howard Martin shocked the family of Harry Gittins, 74, who just days before had been "so happy, so well, so jolly", his son told Teesside Crown Court.

The GP, who practised in Newton Aycliffe, Co Durham, is accused of murdering three patients.

The 71-year-old, of Penmaenmawr, North Wales denies all three charges.

He is also accused of murdering Frank Moss, 59, of Eldon, near Bishop Auckland, and Stanley Weldon, 74, from Kimberley Street, Coundon Grange, near Bishop Auckland, with morphine overdose injections.

'Die with dignity'

Paul Gittins told the jury Dr Martin visited his parents' home in Newton Aycliffe on 21 January 2004.

Later that evening, when Dr Martin was making the second of three house visits that day, Mr Gittins Jnr, his sister Jillian Coates and mother Eileen discussed their father's treatment in the living room while he lay in his bedroom.

Mr Gittins Jnr said on Wednesday: "My sister heard a noise and was startled.

Harry Gittins, Frank Moss, Stanley Weldon
The GP has pleaded not guilty to all charges

"She said 'That must be dad getting up out of bed'."

Asked how the doctor responded, Mr Gittins said: "(He said) 'It won't be your dad because he won't be getting out of bed again'."

According to Mr Gittins Jnr, the doctor later said: "Your father wanted to die with dignity and respect."

Mr Gittins Jnr added: "By then I had begun to go into shock.

"I was horrified, I had seen my dad... five days before... and he was so happy, so well, so jolly and then to be told a few days later that he was going to die."

Dr Peter Hardman, a consultant oncologist, also gave evidence about Mr Gittins' illness.

The court heard claims that Dr Martin told Mr Gittins' family he had received a letter which said the cancer had spread.

Dr Hardman, of the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, denied writing a letter and said he had checked medical records to see if such a letter existed, without success.

He told the court he was pleased with the way his patient's tumour had responded to chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

He said that given time it might have disappeared, saying the result had been "highly satisfactory".

The trial continues.

'GP gave cancer man injections'
31 Oct 05 |  England
GP 'killed three with overdoses'
26 Oct 05 |  England

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