Dr Death: The Harold Shipman Story | Part Three

(Some of the people who died at the hands of Harold Shipman. Picture credit: thesun

Continued from part two...

Harold Shipman's trial took place in October of 1999 at Preston Crown Court and the real Dr Harold Shipman was revealed. Harold was a cold, manipulative man who prayed on elderly people for his own gain and because he enjoyed the power of having control over people's lives. He was so heartless that when relatives would ask him to come to the house to check on their relative (the one he had just visited without their knowledge and murdered) he would pretend to phone for an ambulance and act like he was concerned. He was never a caring doctor, he was very good at putting a performance on as a caring doctor but there was something very cold, twisted and dark inside of Harold Shipman. 

He was found guilty on all charges and handed 15 life sentences as well as a four year sentence for one of the forgery's that the evidence could prove and that was the false will of Kathleen Grundy. The judge recommended that Harold should never be released from prison and a few years after this, the British Home Secretary set this in stone, Harold was going to die behind bars for his crimes.

Ten days after he was found guilty of all charges, he was officially removed from the General Medical Council Register.

He never gave off an ounce of remorse and his wife, Primrose was either in denial or she was trying to protect her husband. Nobody can say for sure how much, if anything she knew about what her husband was doing. The fact that he had thousands of pounds worth of items in the garage should have been enough to make her wonder or did she just turn a blind eye because she loved her husband and enjoyed the money and the gifts that he brought her?

Harold really thought he was that clever that he would never get caught and it's frightening that he may be responsible for deaths dating back to the early 1970s. A later investigation titled ''The Shipman Inquiry'' found that he may have been responsible for over 200 deaths. They found that 459 people in total had died under his care throughout his career but they could not prove that every single one of those people had died at his hands or through natural illness. There was some evidence that at least 215 of those people were victims. 

In the early stages of his career he was also suspected of killing a four year old girl at Pontefract General Hospital but this was never proven.

The case sent shockwaves though the UK and was major headlines for a long time. Harold was and is still called one of the UK's most prolific and dangerous serial killers. 

And what of Primrose? Well, she continued to stand by Harold and wrote love letters to him whilst he was in prison. She continued to claim that she knew nothing of his crimes.

Primrose and Harold spent 40 years together and had four children, there was no sign that the bond between them was broken even when the truth of what he had been doing had come to life. Some women would have been traumatised and sickened but Primrose stood by him and reportedly asked him in a letter, why did he do it. Nobody knows if this was just for show, to make people believe that she was innocent. 

Harold didn't cope well in prison, he was a mess and Primrose's letters and phonecalls kept him going. When the prison staff tried to get him to take part in therapy sesssions and discuss his crimes (the police were still investigating into how many other deaths he may have been responsible for and probably hoped that he would give some sort of confession with victims names and details at some point but he never did) but Harold refused and as result, the staff took away the phonecalls from Primrose. Harold battled depression and it's reported that the week before he took his own life, the phonecalls from Primrose were once again allowed.

Harold had previously told his probabtion officer that he was suicidal and that he wanted to take his own life before he turned 60. His reason for this was because he wanted his wife to have a full pension, if he died after the age of 60, she would not have been entitled to one.

On the 13th of January 2004, Harold Shipman, one of the most evil men in history, tied some bedsheets to the window bars of his prison cell and took his own life. It was the eve of his 58th birthday. 

There's still stories around today that he was possibly murdered by fellow inmates but again, how can we ever know the truth? An investigation into his death, came up with nothing and it was determined that he did indeed take his own life.

The newpapers celebrated his death, it was in a similar vein to the way people acted when Ted Bundy was executed. Some people were glad that tax payers money was no longer being wasted on such an evil individual. The families of the victims felt cheated, they wanted him to live out his days and possibly tell everyone why he did what he did one day. They felt that he was getting the easy way out again.

Mystery still surrounds today where is he buried. was he cremated? some people believe his body is still being held somewhere because no funeral director will deal with him. Others believe that he was cremated and his ashes given to Primrose.

Primrose and their children all had their identities changed and are now living somewhere out there probably in fear that one day someone may find out who they are. Primrose got her pension pay out and they vanished, they could all be in a different country, not even in the UK.

The chilling and evil legacy of Dr Harold Shipman will never be forgotten and this case struck fear into the hearts of a lot of us who like to believe that all Doctors are good people, that they have our best interests at heart, that we can trust them with our lives and our loved ones lives. 

Thankfully we have so many amazing Doctors who we take our hats off to, especially right now with this pandemic. Harold Shipman was a rare case, thankfully. 

My heart goes out to all of the victims (may they rest in peace) and their families and I do hope that the families of the 15 people who's deaths he was found guilty of, have finally gotten closer to some compensation like they were fighting for.

Thank you again to Jean Nicolas for requesting this case. I will see you all in the next one x

Further reading & sources:

Prescription For Murder - Harold Shipman Story
Harold Shipman News Article
Harold Shipman News Article
Harold Shipman | Wikipedia
Harold Shipman | Murderpedia
Harold Shipman TV Movie
Harold Shipman Docu

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