Harold Shipman

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Harold Frederick "Fred" Shipman[1] (14 January 1946 – 13 January 2004) was a convicted English serial killer. A doctor by profession, he is among the most prolific serial killers in recorded history with 218 murders being positively ascribed to him, although the actual number is likely much higher.

On 31 January 2000, a jury found Shipman guilty of 15 murders. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and the judge recommended that he never be released. The whole life tariff was confirmed by the Home Secretary a little over two years later.

After his trial, the Shipman Inquiry, chaired by Dame Janet Smith, investigated all deaths certified by Shipman. About 80% of his victims were women. His youngest victim was Peter Lewis, a 41-year-old man.[2] Much of Britain's legal structure concerning health care and medicine was reviewed and modified as a direct and indirect result of Shipman's crimes, especially after the findings of the Shipman Inquiry, which began on 1 September 2000 and lasted almost two years. Shipman is the only British doctor found guilty of murdering his patients.[3]

Shipman died on 13 January 2004, after hanging himself in in his cell at Wakefield Prison in West Yorkshire.


Early life and career

Shipman was born in Nottingham England, the second of four children of Vera and Harold Shipman, a lorry driver.[4][5] His working class parents were devout Methodists.[4][5] Shipman was particularly close to his mother, who died during his teenage years.[5][6] Her death came in a manner similar to what would later become Shipman's own modus operandi: she had contracted cancer, and in the later stages of the disease had morphine administered at home by a doctor. Shipman witnessed his mother's pain subside in light of her terminal condition, up until her death on 21 June 1963.[7]

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