Terrible legacy of Moors murders ‘helped Shipman get away with his crimes’

Harold Shipman was able to kill for so long because of the legacy of the Moors murders, a BBC documentary has suggested.

Myra Hindley and Ian Brady murdered five children in Hyde in the 1960s, just over a decade before Shipman set up his GP practice in the same town.

The Shipman Files: A Very British Crime Story found local residents just could not believe something so terrible would happen in their small town again.

Paul Horrocks, former editor of the Manchester Evening News, explained: "It is one of those stories that never ever went away, that was something that blighted the town for years.

“So when along comes the story of Shipman, again there is a feeling in Hyde ‘how can this happen a second time, how can our town be so blighted again and you lot have got it wrong, this won’t be the case, it won’t be true, this can’t be true’.”

The three-part documentary also found that some locals did not voice their suspicions about Shipman – a trusted GP – over fears they would not be believed.

Harold Shipman was first investigated by police in March 1998, after a local funeral parlour expressed concern over his patients' high death rate.

Detectives did not find enough evidence to bring charges, and the investigation was closed in April of the same year.

Tragically, Shipman went on to murder three more of his patients before being reported again – this time by a taxi driver.

John Shaw became suspicious after driving seemingly healthy elderly customers to the hospital, only for them to die in Shipman's care.

He told police he thought Shipman had killed 21 patients.

  • How death of Kathleen Grundy led to sadistic serial killer Harold Shipman's capture

The true number was more than ten times as high.

Shipman was finally caught in June 1998, after he murdered a woman named Kathleen Grundy.

Her daughter became suspicious after finding Kathleen's will named Harold Shipman as the only beneficiary, leaving him £386,000.

She went to the police, who exhumed Kathleen's body to investigate her death. They found she had traces of diamorphine, an opioid pain killer, in her system.

Trying to cover his tracks, Shipman fabricated medical notes that suggested Kathleen had been an addict. But police quickly realised that these comments were written only after her death.

Shipman was investigated, and eventually found guilty of murdering 15 patients who had been under his care.

He was sentenced to life in prison, with the recommendation that he never be released.

An inquiry was launched to reexamine all the deaths that Shipman had certified during his long medical career.

It identified 215 victims, and estimated that his total victim count was nearer 250.

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