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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 August 2005, 00:18 GMT 01:18 UK
Shipman stole victim's jewellery
Harold Shipman
Shipman stole from at least one of his 250 victims
An investigation into jewellery found at the home of serial killer Harold Shipman has ended with one ring being returned to a victim's family.

Police believe Shipman stole more than 30 pieces of jewellery from his victims but they have not been claimed.

They were auctioned in secret and the money given to Victim Support.

Of about 100 items investigated, two thirds were returned to the GP's wife, Primrose. Shipman, who hanged himself, killed an estimated 250 people.

'Terrific job'

The jewellery, including rings, bracelets, earrings and necklaces, were found in the Shipmans' bedroom, during a search of their home in Hyde, Cheshire, in 1998.

Victims' families were angered when Mrs Shipman demanded their return last year - prompting police to appeal for relatives to contact them if they believed jewellery had gone missing.

Primrose Shipman
Primrose Shipman had asked the police to return the jewellery

Although 25 families came forward, the Assets Recovery Agency said only the diamond ring had been returned after the family produced "a photograph to corroborate their claim".

Of the remaining pieces not returned to Shipman's wife, the ARA said "on balance of probability they were stolen".

The 1,700 raised from the sale of these items will go to Tameside Victim Support, "which did a terrific job in very distressing circumstances".

The jewellery was sold in secret and no further details will be released about it, "to prevent any possibility of the items being traded for other than their intrinsic value".

'Sufficient proof'

The items returned to Mrs Shipman were largely "low-value costume jewellery which bore no resemblance to items described by relatives", the ARA said.

The ARA said she had been shown the jewellery and had identified pieces that she said were not hers.

She provided "sufficient corroborated proof that some of the items were hers".

Relatives were given the chance to see the jewellery to satisfy themselves that it was not their relatives'.

After the ARA investigation was launched, relatives of some of Shipman's victims said they were pleased.

But others suggested their relatives' belongings may never be recovered.

Hyde resident Kathleen Wood, whose 83-year-old mother Bessie Baddeley died in 1997, said several items had disappeared from her mother's home but they were not among those seized by police.


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