I Met Doctor Harold Shipman! Dr Death - His Family Were Victims Too.
Yes, I met Doctor Harold Shipman. What people don't realise is that Dr Death had a family - a good family - and they were victims too.
He committed crime. He became a convicted killer of medical crime. He was more than a murderer - he was a mass murderer. A Doctor who was more than qualified than in just medicine – he became one of history’s most notorious seriel killers.
The mass murderer, Dr Harold Frederick Shipman, made victims of those that trusted him with their lives. But, were they the only victims from one of the worst seriel killers to have lived?
Dr Death, as he became known, made a victim not only of his patients, but those he was supposed to have loved.
That of Primrose Shipman, his children and friends.
This hub, therefore, focuses on Doctor Death and how he made a living hell for those around him. This may be viewed as a rather controversial article on Dr Harold Frederick Shipman.
There is no denying the judgement made on Shipman, and the terrible crimes he committed, by murdering his patients. My objective here is on an alternative view to his life.
Based on personal and experiences of others, it is a passive account. I have protected the identities of all sources for reasons of confidentiality.
Being a neighbour of a Doctor is something to be proud of, or is it?
I met Dr Harold Shipman. This was on two or three occasions, all in a social context rather than professional. Known to his friends, acquaintances and neighbours as Fred, someone I was friendly with lived next door to him in Mottram, Manchester. She was very proud to boast that she lived next door to a Doctor and used to do some paid administration for him. Her daughter used to go to school with Shipman’s children and the family had a strong bond with their professional neighbours. My friend, Jane, found the whole family supportive and genuine – sharing celebrations and helping out in times of need.
This was a two-way relationship and much appreciated by both families. It was a terrible shock to her when the truth of Shipman’s actions became the highlight of media attention. For months the neighbourhood were scrutinised by the media.
There were attempts to extract slanderous stories as neighbours were pestered for their story. In the darkness of night floodlights were triggered as people went outdoors to get on with their daily business.
For the whole duration, however, faithful Jane would believe that all allegations were false. It later transpired that the Doctor that she was so boastfully proud of became labelled as one of the world’s most notorious serial killers.
Shipman Wears Suits for a Short Time, then DUMPS Them!
A member of Jane’s family, Jack, once commented to me on a brief conversation that he had with Fred. This was something that he had not thought too much at the time, but after the events and the charges made against him came into fruition, the memory resurrected itself.
He was taking some rubbish to the front dustbins. It was typical for Shipman to throw new suits away after he had worn them for a short time. Jack told me that he found this behaviour rather odd.
Fred knew that Jack had started his nurse training and struck up a conversation with him whilst tying up another black bag full of these suits. Jack was visiting whilst he had a few days off.
“What made you want to be a nurse, Jack?” said Shipman in a dry professional manner. He had always been renowned for this mannerism as demonstrated within the following clip from a news report at the BBC. Click here to view.
“Well, err, I want to help people, be a valued member of the community and do something worth while!” he replied. “No, Jack,” He challenged, “It’s about power!”
Jack had never thought of it before, but when Shipman was charged, he realised that this comment was a subconscious sinister side of Fred. It was one of the first things that made him suspect that the Doctor was guilty, despite the family’s resistance to the accusations.
Dr Death contributed to a period of hell for his family.
I met Fred and sat with him and his wife, Primrose, at the table of a retirement party. Fred had a professional demeanour even when he should have been letting his hair down. I found him unapproachable and the conversation was kept superficial.
Primrose, however, was a cuddly, ‘Mrs Bear’ type who was approachable and appeared kind. She was welcoming and her smile was warm.
Primrose was always well thought of in the community from which she lived. She would happily keep watch on others children and could totally be trusted. Her housekeeping was a lot to be desired, however. The house was filthy, but her heart was in the right place and people accepted her for her kindness.I think that Primrose got a false portrayal from the media and I hope, here to correct this.
People have made unfounded assumptions as regards to Primrose. It has been reported in the media that she must have known what her husband was doing. Sometimes, people cannot see the wood for the trees and I think this is what happened in Primrose’s case. She was busy with family life – her children were clever, ordinary kids – and helping the local community.
Fred worked long hours and, what is quite often the case with living with a professional person, what happens outside of the home is the business of the professional. Fred Shipman lived an alternative secret life and Primrose became, ultimately, a victim of his actions. She lost her husband, her home and security. Unfortunately, Harold Shipman had contributed to a period of hell for her and their family.
Shipman did the honourable thing and hung himself.
Fred had a closed character and thought that he was cleverer than the system. However, he must have had some conscience. Why? Well, just before his 58th birthday, the new aptly media named, Dr Death, hung himself. The British government were attempting to bring in a ruling of voiding a pension entitlement on a convicted criminal.
The government wanted to rush this through so as Shipman wouldn’t receive this. Dr Death then did the honourable thing for his wife and family. In killing himself, his widow would receive the pension. I am not a fan of Fred, but I must say that, purely on an individual basis, this act was a thoughtful gesture to his wife.
You might disagree with me, but think about it in this way… Primrose could no longer work. She had been stigmatised and ostracised for being the wife of Dr Death, one of the most famous and notorious killers in the world. The media portrayed her as just as evil as Fred. She could not start a new life, not only was she an older person, she had nothing. It had all been taken away. She was being punished for her husband’s vile acts.
I can see her punishment as real injustice, not only for the time she suffered during the conviction process, but possibly, the rest of her life. Who would employ Primrose, knowing the background that she came from? People forget that she wasn’t the one who committed the crimes!
There were more victims of Shipman, but there is no sympathy for them!
Primrose and her children moved away to find obscurity. Some of the children completed University but it was difficult. Although with different identities, being the children of Dr Death must have been a hard cross to bear for all of them.
What I want to emphasise here that Harold Frederick Shipman, not only victimised his patients and their families for whom he murdered, but performed another form of murder. That was by victimisation and condemnation of his family. This was in the form of emotional murder. He destroyed their souls and their lives.
© This work is covered under Creative Commons License
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He was a pillar of the community, serving on local committees, donating prizes to the rugby club, organising charity collections. His patients thought the world of him: he was attentive, kind, never too busy to chat. Yet Dr Harold Frederick Shipman was also the most prolific serial killer the world has ever known, with between 200 and 300 victims. Quietly, for many years, the small, bespectacled GP was making unexpected house calls - and walking out leaving a dead body behind. The murderous career of Dr Shipman only came to an end when police in Hyde, Greater Manchester, were called to investigate a forged will. Overnight, they found themselves embroiled in the biggest murder case in British history. Substantially revised and updated since Shipman's suicide in prison, this is a compelling account of these monstrous crimes and of the man who committed them. The authors have had unparalleled access to friends, colleagues and patients. Their in-depth and authoritative investigation looks at how he killed, how he was able to get away with it for so long, and - most important of all - why.
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