ON THIS DAY    31 January      Graphics version >>   BBC News >>
Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
2000: Life for serial killer Shipman

VIDEO : Report on the Shipman case

Family GP Dr Harold Shipman has been jailed for life for murdering 15 of his patients, making him Britain's biggest convicted serial killer.

Shipman, from Hyde in Greater Manchester, is also suspected of killing more than 100 other patients.

From the dock at Preston Crown Court, Shipman showed no emotion as the verdict was read out: guilty to 15 murders and forging the will of one of his patients.

In sentencing Shipman to life imprisonment the judge, Mr Justice Thayne Forbes, said: "Each victim was your patient. You murdered each and every one by a calculated and cold-blooded perversion of his medical skills.

"You brought them death, disguised by the attentiveness of a good doctor."

All Shipman's victims were women and none was suffering from a serious illness when she died. Each one died suddenly after a visit from Shipman.

The court was told how the doctor would visit the victims in their homes and administer a lethal dose of morphine.

The alarm was raised by solicitor Angela Woodruff, the daughter of Kathleen Grundy, Shipman's last victim. Shipman arrived at Mrs Grundy's home on the pretext of giving her a blood test and had, in fact, given her a massive dose of morphine.

He then crudely forged her will so he would benefit from her substantial estate.

"You brought them death, disguised by the attentiveness of a good doctor"

Mr Justice Thayne Forbes

Outside the court, Mrs Woodruff gave her reaction. "Sadly, nothing that has happened here nor can happen in the future can bring back my mum, nor the other victims," she said.

"We hope we can now have the space and time to remember my mum as she was - a happy, active, caring, energetic, loving person whom we miss so much."

Shipman's family, his wife, Primrose, and sons, Christopher and David were in court for the verdict.

The defence said the case against the doctor was based solely on unreliable and unsafe toxicological evidence gathered from the exhumed bodies of nine of his victims.

The family solicitor, Ann Ball, said: "Mrs Shipman is devastated by the verdict that has been reached today. The last 18 months have been an ordeal for her and her family."

Further murder charges are possible. The court was told the police had investigated the deaths of 136 of Shipman's patients.

In Context
An official inquiry conducted by Dame Janet Smith concluded Shipman may have killed as many as 250 patients over 23 years.

The finding confirmed Shipman as Britain's worst serial killer - ahead of Mary Ann Cotton, believed to have poisoned more than 20 people in the 19th century.

According to the report, published in July 2002, his first victim was Eva Lyons, killed the day before her 71st birthday in 1975.

He had eight previous convictions, including one in 1976 for falsifying prescriptions to feed an addiction to pethidine, a morphine-like drug. The General Medical Council disciplined him, but did not strike him off.

In July 2003 after a second phase of the inquiry, Dame Janet criticised Greater Manchester Police for they way they handled the case and said the last three victims might have been saved "if the police and coroner had moved with reasonable expedition".

On 13 January 2004 Shipman died after he was found hanging in his cell at Wakefield prison.

The true extent of his crimes while a trusted family GP in Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire may never be known.

Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
^^ Back to top |