- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 20, 2002

LONDON Dr. Harold Shipman, the once-beloved family doctor who is serving 15 life sentences for killing patients, killed at least 200 more, a judge announced yesterday.
The yearlong investigation by High Court Judge Janet Smith was unable to offer any firm explanation for why Shipman turned on the town that trusted him.
"The way in which Shipman could kill, face the relatives and walk away unsuspected would be dismissed as fanciful if described in a work of fiction," Judge Smith said.
For more than two decades, the families of Hyde, England, went to Shipman for maladies serious and small, welcoming him into their homes when they were too ill to go to his office.
"Doctors are respected, rightly so, and Shipman in particular was highly respected in Hyde," Judge Smith said. "He betrayed their trust in a way and to an extent that I believe is unparalleled in history."
Judge Smith examined records on the deaths of 494 persons in Shipman's care from 1974 to 1998 and found that he began killing mainly by injection in 1975, a year after he started practicing.
His victims ranged in age from 41 to 93 and comprised 171 women and 44 men.
Judge Smith said the toll may be even higher, citing a "real suspicion" that Shipman had killed 45 more persons for whom there was insufficient evidence to be certain.
In an additional 38 cases, there was too little information to form any opinion on the cause of death, she said.
Judge Smith's panel was appointed after the doctor was convicted in January 2000 of killing 15 elderly patients. It was charged with first determining how many other deaths he caused and will next consider how he got away with it.
Judge Smith said she had "reached no clear conclusion" about Shipman's motive. In all but one case, there was no evidence that he killed for money, and there was "no suggestion of any form of sexual depravity," she said.
Noting that Shipman was addicted to painkillers when he started practicing medicine, Judge Smith speculated that whatever had pushed him toward drugs may also have driven him to kill.
"The psychiatrists say that a person who has one addiction is quite likely to be subject to other forms of addiction," she told reporters.
South Manchester coroner John Pollard, who sometimes worked with Shipman, told the British Broadcasting Corp. that the only explanation he could offer "is that he simply enjoyed viewing the process of dying and enjoyed the feeling of control over life and death."
Shipman, 56, is serving 15 life sentences with no possibility of parole, and prosecutors have ruled out further trials. He maintains his innocence.
Judge Smith's report said Shipman's first victim, 70-year-old cancer sufferer Eva Lyons, died in March 1975 in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, where Shipman started practicing in 1974.
In 1977, he joined a group practice in Hyde, a working-class town of 22,000 just outside Manchester in northwest England, and quickly earned townspeople's respect.
The bearded, bespectacled doctor built a sterling reputation and set up a busy one-man practice in 1992.
Christopher Rudol recalled his father, who Judge Smith said was killed by Shipman, had always looked up to the doctor.
"Shipman had been his [general practitioner] for as long as I can remember," Mr. Rudol said. "He worshipped him and admired him."


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