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I Met Doctor Harold Shipman! Dr Death - His Family Were Victims Too.

Updated on August 28, 2011

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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    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 5 years ago from Great Britain

      Just History... thank you. It was an alternative view point and, you are right.

    • Just History profile image

      Just History 5 years ago from England

      I totally think that his wife and especially his children were innocent of his crime and that they should be able to live their lives without stigma- thoughtful hub

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain

      Hi Mark. Thank you for posting this. I believe in freedom of speech, which is why I have allowed it to show on this article. I must highlight that this is your truth and, I can not possibly comment on something that I personally know nothing of. I guess, time will tell no lies and I trust that the truth will manifest in the end.

      One thing is, there are always alternative views and perceptions on what happens in life. What is it that one wise man said? It is always the winners of history that write it.

      I am glad that your records were not auctioned, it is something you might need one day.

      I wish you well.

    • profile image

      mark felstead 6 years ago

      Oh, by the way...The Auction was Stopped because I was going to Auction my Medical Records for 1p.....

    • profile image

      mark felstead 6 years ago

      Dr Shipman...Tried to Kill me on Oct 6th 1987....I lost my Army Career through him....I lost my 2 Children through him....I lived on the Streets cos of him...I lost contact with my Family through well as my Marriage....His wife (Primrose) lifted up my Arm so he could Inject me..I pressed Charges against her Incident No 480/180710....Nothing to date has been done even though I produced the Evidence in his own Handwriting...I was deliberately kept away from the Shipman Enquiry....I reported Shipman to another Dr in 1988...I have evidence for that...anybody whom thinks his wife is Innocent is deceiving themselves...I have been alianated since May 10th 1991 from my Children as a Direct result of him...After confronting him in 1991 about Stealing my Medical Records from Donnybrook house he didn't kill anyone till 1994...In 1994 Imoved to Iceland...He would have Known that cos my Family members would have told 1994 He carried on his Campaign of Murdering the Innocent People of Hyde.....People should realise that he should of never been moved to Hyde as he had a Criminal record for Frauding 97 should have been Sacked....The real Story of Shipman hasn't even come out Yet...but you can be assured its going to...Dont Believe what a State controlled Media is saying...

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 8 years ago from Great Britain

      ryankett... thanks mate! Double the trouble eh? lol...


    • profile image

      ryankett 8 years ago

      Hey Shazwellyn, I linked to this hub from my Harold Shipman article ;)

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 8 years ago from Great Britain

      Thanks Habee! Happy new year!x

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Awesome hub!!

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 8 years ago from Great Britain

      Citrus... The children have a new identity. The media are leaving them alone to get on with their lives. Isn't it a shame that just because you fall in love with the wrong person, you get tarnished with the same.

      Sometimes us humans love to kick a victim when they are down,

      Thanks for reading x

    • profile image

      Citrus000 8 years ago

      I read every word, watched the videos and feel that this is an outstanding story Shaz. I can not imagine the suffering that his family has endured and will think of positive imagery for them in their lives now. Primrose, if in fact she is innocent, has to be an incredibly strong person to have endured such horrific things in her life and to continue on raising her family. Wonderful hub, thank you.

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 8 years ago from Great Britain

      Absolutely no control! x

    • tantrum profile image

      tantrum 8 years ago from Tropic of Capricorn

      Yes ! I can't imagine what would that be ! I think I would lose the trust I have in everything and everyone ! really devastating!

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 8 years ago from Great Britain

      Hi tantrum. Life is never guaranteed. It seems that despite being generally a good person, i.e. Primrose, she had no control over the actions of others. As a result, she must have gone through hell.

      The moral to this... it is a scary thought that anyone can be a victim of circumstance just by being with the wrong people, at the wrong place and at the wrong time.

      Can you imagine what it must feel like to be convicted for a crime for which you are truly innocent, just because of a matter of chance? Primrose must have felt: totally out of control, devistated, disbeliving, judged, prosecuted, persecuted and confused. The man that she had built her life around was not the person she thought he was. She must have felt her whole existance was a lie.

      I am not sure that I would have managed to cope with that. It is something that would totally break a person, don't you think?

      Thanks for taking the time and reading this my friend x

    • tantrum profile image

      tantrum 8 years ago from Tropic of Capricorn

      This was an incredible hub !Very interesting point of view. There's always another side of the story. Thanks !

    • profile image

      ryankett 8 years ago

      Thanks for the backlink shazwellyn, I will return the favour when I get a spare minute! A very good hub. Serial killers are often active in society and respected locally, most close to Peter Sutcliffe were convinced by his innocence too, and it was same with the David Wright the Ipswich red light murderer.

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 8 years ago from Great Britain

      Thanks for reading Izzy! Come back soon x

    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 8 years ago from UK

      New perspective given in this excellent hub, Shaz. Thanks for sharing:)


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