The Shipman Case

 Dr Harold Shipman
Dr Harold Shipman
14/1/1946 - 13/1/2004

The following case reveals the difficulty in detecting murder by poison, as well as the addictive nature of the crime. It should also be noted that 6 months before Shipman was finally brought to trial he was exonerated by an investigation undertaken by two police detectives. This enquiry was conducted following the official voicing of suspicions raised by the high mortality rate among Dr. Harold Shipman's patients. But the English police officers chose to accept the word of the doctor under investigation rather than the undeniable evidence of the death rate among those he treated.

The Shipman Case As Reported

More Victims The Courier-Mail 21/1/2005
Probe finds doctor may have killed 265 The Courier-Mail6/1/2001
Doctor Of Evil Murdered 150The Courier-Mail3/2/2000
Doctor Obsessed With Murder
Victim's Daughter Solved Mystery Deaths
Wife's Love Put To Test As Verdict Reached
Greed Was Doctor's Undoing, Court Told The Courier-Mail 13/10/1999
116 Patients In Murder Inquiry The Daily Telegraph12/11/1998
Police Fear Murder Toll May Hit 77 The Courier-Mail22/10/1998
Doctor And The Widow The Sunday Mail 13/9/1998

More Victims
The Courier-Mail, 21/1/2005

LONDON: Harold Shipman pictured, the family doctor who became Britain's worst serial killer, may have killed 137 patients as a young trainee on top of the 215 killings already attributed to him, an inquiry revealed yesterday. Shipman, who hanged himself aged 57 in his prison cell in January last year, is believed to have carried out some murders while a trainee hospital doctor in Yorkshire, northern England, between 1970 and 1974. A new report by an inquiry set up to investigate Shipman's decades of murder will be published this month.

Probe finds doctor may have killed 265
by Helen McCabe — London The Courier-Mail, Saturday, 6 January 2001

SERIAL murderer Harold Shipman may have killed up to 265 of his patients, according to a chilling new investigation.

The former Manchester GP was convicted last year of murdering 15 elderly women but police have always suspected the death toll was substantially higher.

A year-long review of the case has uncovered a pattern of deaths which emerged early in his career and continued for a quarter of a century before it was detected. The findings exceeded even the wildest estimates of the death toll.

After he was convicted of the initial 15 killings, police investigators gave the names of an additional 23 patients to the Crown Prosecution Service. They investigated 192 deaths before the inquiry was scaled down.

Shipman, 54, who was regarded as a popular and mild-mannered family man, preyed on elderly, vulnerable women.

During his trial it was revealed Shipman had murdered his victims by making unexpected visits to their homes in the afternoon when they were most likely to be alone. He killed each victim with a lethal injection of morphine. The deaths were eventually discovered after police exhumed the grave of an elderly woman after her relatives suspected foul play.

Toxicology tests uncovered traces of the drug overdose.

The Times newspaper said the latest investigation by Professor Richard Baker concluded Shipman probably killed another 250 people, including at least one man, taking the toll to 265.

The identities of the possible new victims have been protected in an attempt to protect the relatives.

The findings will bring renewed pressure from the families of other alleged victims for a second trial. It was abandoned after the Crown Prosecutors office decided no purpose would be served as Shipman will already have spent the rest of his natural life behind bars.

Doctor of evil murdered 150
The Courier-Mail,Thursday, 3rd February, 2000

FAMILY doctor Harold Shipman murdered at least 150 patients. The staggering figure makes him Britain and possibly the world's worst serial killer.

Shipman, 54, will die in jail after being convicted yesterday of murdering 15 women patients with lethal injections of heroin. Police say they have evidence for 23 more charges but said the total murders were 150. The South Manchester coroner said the toll could not be determined and could be 1000 taking into account the GP's long career.

Trial judge Justice Forbes described Shipman as "an evil and wicked man" who cold-bloodedly perverted his medical skills.

Shipman, of Hyde in Greater Manchester in the north of England, stared impassively ahead as Justice Forbes sentenced him in Preston Court to 15 terms of life. A jury deliberating for 34 hours after a four month trial had unanimously found him guilty of murdering 15 women patients, aged from 49 to 81.

The father of four clinically executed his victims not for money but for the "buzz" of being present at the time of death.

Retired detective Stan Egerton, who arrested Shipman, said last night:

"He had not shown one bit of remorse. He was arrogant and superior when I first charged him."

An emotional Justice Forbes described Shipman's "wicked, wicked crimes" as a chilling abuse of trust.

"Each of your victims was your patient. You murdered each and every one of your victims by a calculating and cold-blooded perversion of your medical skills. For your own evil and wicked purpose, you took advantage and grossly abused the trust each of your victims put in you.
'I have little doubt each of your victims smiled and thanked you as she submitted to your deadly administrations. None of your victims realised that yours was not a healing touch."

Local coroner John Pollard said he believed it was impossible to put a precise figure on the number of victims.

"If he was killing patients throughout his 30 years as a doctor, perhaps not so many in the early years, we might be looking at 1000," Dr Pollard said.

At one stage, Shipman murdered three patients on consecutive days.

The evidence was that Shipman was obsessed with death and enjoyed exercising the power of life or death. He also appeared to take a morbid pleasure in the families' grief.

Prosecutor Richard Henriques, QC, said Shipman had a taste for killing.

Investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Mike Williams said:

"He likes control and the ultimate control over life is death."

Shipman's known killing spree began in 1995 and only ended when the daughter of one of his victims became suspicious over her mother's sudden death and new $1 million will, which left everything to Shipman.

Jurors and the victims' families gasped when it was revealed after the verdicts that he had been a drug addict who falsified prescriptions in the mid-70s to feed a pethidine habit.

Victim's Daughter Solved Mystery Of Deaths

EVEN Angela Woodruff, the woman whose tenacity finally trapped him, found it hard to accept that Harold Shipman was a murderer.

"We began to think he had killed my mother, but it was very difficult to believe," she said yesterday. "We kept going over and over it and thinking round and round it and thinking: "It must be Dr Shipman but it can't be. It was just impossible. He was a doctor and my mother liked and respected him."

Mrs Woodruff, 54, a solicitor, is the daughter of Shipman's last victim, Kathleen Grundy, who died in June 1998. She felt almost immediately something was wrong. Although her mother was 81, she had been "a very vibrant, energetic person".

When it was clear Mrs Grundy's will, leaving almost $1 million to Shipman, was a forgery, she convinced police to exhume her mother's body and toxicology tests found lethal levels of morphine.

Doctor Obsessed with murder
Women Killed In Drive For Power by Christine Middap (London)

HE was a doctor who was supposed to sustain life, but Harold Shipman was obsessed with death. Or, as one acquaintance morbidly put it, he enjoyed watching the process of dying.

Any discussion about motive can only be speculative because the Greater Manchester doctor has maintained his innocence.

But those who knew him and a psychiatrist who assessed him all talk of the doctor's lust for power.

South Manchester Coroner John Pollard, who knew and worked with Shipman, said the doctor enjoyed control.

"I think the only valid possible explanation for it is that he simply enjoyed viewing the process of dying and enjoyed the feeling of control over life and death, literally over life and death," he said.

It was a view also reached by forensic psychiatrist Richard Badcock, who assessed Shipman for 90 minutes while he was in police custody.

He said Shipman killed to get rid of anxiety and was not comfortable unless he was in complete control.

"He could either be in a state of complete control, in which case he was relaxed and normal, or he was in a state of collapse," Dr Badcock said. "He is not doing it for excitement. He is trying to get rid of an anxiety, but an anxiety which he might not even let himself think about at the time."

All the victims lived near Hyde, where Shipman ran a one-man surgery. All died unexpectedly on the same day the doctor saw them.

Prosecutor Richard Henriques, QC, said:

"None of the deceased were terminally ill. The defendant killed those 15 patients because, in the submission of the prosecution, he enjoyed doing so.
He was exercising the ultimate power of controlling life and death and repeated the act so often he must have found the drama of taking life to his taste."

Shipman did not apparently torture or inflict undue suffering on his victims. All appeared to have died without a struggle and appeared to have had peaceful deaths.

Detective Superintendent Bernard Postles, who led the investigation, said:

"It appears he just got the compulsion to kill. We looked at greed, we looked at revenge. We examined the possibility that the victims were all whingeing women draining his drug fund. But although some of them made visits to him, this was not the case.
Rage? Anger? He wasn't annoyed with these people.
The clue to the motive is his attitude that he is superior and wants to control situations."

Shipman forged the will of his last victim Kathleen Grundy and was seen admiring the Royal Doulton set of another victim minutes after administering a lethal injection. But greed or money was not seriously offered as a motive.

He was cold and calculating in his execution of the crime and sought out his victims.

In four cases, he invented reasons for visiting the women at home.

"In all these cases he simply had no reason at all to be at the home save and except for the inescapable fact he had gone there to kill them," Mr Henriques said.

Relatives said the doctor was cold and callous when he told them of their loved one's unexpected deaths.

The son-in-law of victim Pamela Hillier, 68, Martin Gee, said Shipman was unhelpful and uncaring.

"I will always remember Dr Shipman's words: 'let's put it down as a stroke'. Now I realise it was a very imprecise way for a doctor to speak, but at the time I just accepted it."

Shipman also laughed as he referred to one of his victims, Ivy Lomas, 63, as a "nuisance" as she lay dead in his surgery while he continued treating patients in another room.

No explanation was given for the fact that all the charges related to women.

Wife's love put to test as verdict reached
by Paul Harris

THE easiest option would have been to stay in the background. That way, Primrose Shipman could have quietly distanced herself from the despicable little man who turned out to be Britain's most unlikely serial killer.

But 10m was all that separated the formidable Mrs Shipman from her greying anonymous husband yesterday, as it had done for the past 57 days she had been in court.

Whether this was a fiercely loyal wife determined to be at his side throughout — or a woman who simply needed to know why the man she married 33 years ago fell in love with death — has been impossible for outsiders to decide with certainty.

Perhaps there, was an element of both. But in the end she stood by him.

If he had glanced over from his place in the dock, he would have seen his wife seated beside their eldest son Christopher, with his arm around her.

Like everyone else, they had expected it to be the end of another routine day, with the jury being sent home for a further night before resuming their deliberations next day. But at 4.27pm London time, after an unexplained delay, a court official mouthed a single word to Primrose: "Verdicts".

From that moment she barely took her eyes off her husband. She was there if he needed her.

But Harold Shipman didn't need emotional support now. He had no emotions to betray. Maybe that explains why, when the first verdict was delivered, he stood twiddling his thumbs in front of him. Never. flinching, never breaking his stare.

It took the jury foreman six minutes to deliver all 15 verdicts. And still Harold Shipman stared. He blew his cheeks into his beard and bounced up down gently. If you had to guess, you might have thought he was listening to a tedious medical lecture at which he was an unwilling guest.

Greed Was Doctor's Undoing, Court Told
Glenn Stanaway (London) The Courier-Mail Wednesday, October 13th, 1999

HAROLD Shipman, a family GP accused of being Britain's "Doctor Death" for allegedly murdering 15 female patients for fun, came unstuck when he tried to cut one victim's loving daughter and grand children out of her will, his trial was told yesterday.

After killing 81-year-old Kathleen Grundy — the former mayoress of his local area of Hyde — with a lethal morphine injection, 53-year-old Shipman then typed out a forged will on his battered old typewriter leaving her $1 million estate to him, Preston Crown Court, in England's north, was told.

Prosecutor Richard Henriques, QC, outlining the Crown case, said what Shipman underestimated in "this evil and calculating plot to rob a sprightly 81-year-old of her life and fortune" was that her family would smell a rat.

Not only was Mrs Grundy considered healthy for her age, with little record of illness, but she doted on her grandsons. Their mother, Mrs Grundy's solicitor daughter Angela Woodruff, went to police with her suspicions because she knew her mother would never disinherit them.

It was from here, Mr Henriques said, police investigations uncovered a horrific tale of a doctor who developed "a taste for the drama of taking life" and who could be England's most prolific serial killer this century.

"He enjoyed killing these women," Mr Henriques said. "He was exercising the ultimate power of controlling life and death."

Shipman, who is married with four children, has pleaded not guilty to murdering 15 females aged from 49 to 81 between 1995 and 1998 and a charge of forging Mrs Grundy's will.

With Shipman's wife Primrose and son Christopher sitting in the court, the prosecution outlined an extraordinary case of how he randomly selected mostly elderly women to inject with deadly morphine doses, then falsified medical records and told lies to hide his crimes.

The first case detailed by the prosecution was the murder on June 24, 1998 of Mrs Grundy, whose exhumed body revealed lethal doses of morphine in her liver and thigh muscles. The night before she died, Mr Henriques said, Mrs Grundy told her daughter Angela how proud she was of her grandsons and how well she herself felt.

"The picture you will form from the evidence is neither of somebody about to die of old age nor engaged in disinheriting her only daughter and grandsons," Mr Henriques told the jury.

Mr Henriques said Shipman even used "black humour" when confronted with allegations that he killed Mrs Grundy.

"He said most significantly, and in Nurse (Marion) Gilchrist's view, displaying a sense of black humour, that the only thing he had done wrong with regards to Mrs Grundy's death was not being able to arrange for her to be cremated. He said that if he had arranged this, he would not have had any trouble," the prosecutor said.

116 patients in murder inquiry.

On November 12th 1998 The Daily Telegraph reported the exhumation of

"a seventh body proving what could be one of Britain's most grisly mass murder cases."

Police fear murder toll may hit 77.

On October 22nd 1998 The Courier Mail reported investigations into Dr. Shipman's activities following his arrest for murder have uncovered four more murders and been upgraded to consider a possible 77 more cases.

Doctor and the widow

On September 13th 1998 The Sunday Mail reported the arrest of Dr. Harold Shipman for the murder of a patient. This followed the exhumation of the body of Mrs Kathleen Grundy, 81, whose late changes to her will raised the suspicions of her daughter who promptly went to the police.

Family, friends and neighbours were shocked by her sudden demise. Her doctor was called to the 17th century cottage where she lived in a tiny village outside Manchester, 300 km north of London, and noted on her death certificate that she died of old age.

But now the doctor, Harold Shipman, 52, has been charged with murder, forgery and attempted deception after a two-month police investigation in which Mrs Grundy's body was exhumed.

And the investigation has been expanded to examine the deaths of another 27 of Dr Shipman's patients, 25 of whom were women.

Concerns were first raised by Mrs Grundy's lawyer daughter, Angela Woodruff. She was stunned to learn that just 15 days before her mother died she had changed her will, cutting out Mrs Woodruff and her two sons and making Dr Shipman a major beneficiary of a property estate that totalled $945,000.

The changes were made in Dr Shipman's surgery and witnessed by another patient.

At Mrs Woodruff's insistence, a coroner granted a police request to exhume the body of Mrs Grundy from the chapel near her home on August 1st. The police inquiry soon became one of the biggest of its kind in Greater Manchester when it was expanded to the other patients, most of whom were women who had died in the previous 12 months.

Unlike the Grundy case, most of the bodies had been cremated.

Mrs Grundy's body was found at her cottage on June 24th by friends concerned she had failed to turn up for voluntary work at a luncheon club.

They said that she had appeared to be in good health and had spent the night before watching a World Cup football game on television with a friend.

Paul Spencer, the patient who witnessed the changed will in Dr Shipman's surgery , said he did not know the nature of the document he signed.

Dr Shipman, who has lived in the area for 18 years and lives five minutes from his surgery, has declined to comment since the investigation began apart from saying:

"I have been advised not to say anything. I have nothing to hide."

He was charged last week after appearing at Ashton-under-Lyne police station.