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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 May 2005, 00:43 GMT 01:43 UK
Shipman jewels not going to widow
Primrose Shipman
Primrose Shipman has asked the police to return the jewellery
Police say they will not return jewellery possibly stolen by Harold Shipman to the widow of the killer GP.

Instead, the Greater Manchester force is referring the matter to the Asset Recovery Agency.

Around 70 items were seized by police from the mass murderer's home in Hyde, Greater Manchester in 1998.

Relatives of victims believe some jewellery may have belonged to loved ones. The haul included necklaces, rings and brooches, valued at 10,000.

Take ownership

After the seizure Shipman's wife Primrose demanded the goods be returned. Police then appealed for relatives of the doctor's victims to contact them if they believed jewellery had gone missing.

A spokesman said: "Through our inquiries we have established that some of the jewellery we seized from Shipman's home may match items described by the relatives of his victims.

"We have referred this matter to the Asset Recovery Agency and they have agreed to take ownership of it.

The decision will come as a great comfort to the families who have lost things
Peter Wagstaff
Chairman of victims' group
"They are going to continue this work and hopefully use the powers of the High Court to reunite relatives with property that may have belonged to their loved ones and bring resolution to the situation."

Relatives of some of Shipman's victims said they were pleased by the news.

Hyde resident Kathleen Wood, whose 83-year-old mother Bessie Baddeley died in 1997, said: "This obviously seems the fairest way to get jewellery back to the rightful owners.

"I wouldn't have liked to see it go to Shipman's wife - not if people thought it had belonged to their relatives."

Mrs Wood, 63, said several items had disappeared from her mother's home but they were not among those seized by police - and she feared they might never show up.

'Step closer'

Peter Wagstaff, whose 81-year-old mother was killed and who is chairman of the victims' group, said a number of people suspected Shipman had taken their relatives' possessions.

"The decision will come as a great comfort to the families who have lost things," he said.

"I am sure it will be a great relief to them, and hopefully it will be a step closer to them getting anything he may have stolen back."

Ann Alexander, the solicitor for the families, declined to comment.

The doctor is estimated to have murdered at least 250 patients in a two-decade killing spree while working in Hyde, Greater Manchester, and Pontefract and Todmorden, West Yorkshire.

He was found hanged in Wakefield Prison in January last year after being given 15 life sentences in January 2000.

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