Witness who helped convict Dr Harold Shipman after he murdered one of her neighbours speaks publicly for the first time – and reveals she gave the serial killer a key to his victim’s home where they found her body together
- Harold Shipman killed an estimated 250 people by morphine injection in 1990s
- He was convicted of murdering 15 of them in Hyde, Greater Manchester in 1999
- New documentary details the key mistakes he made which led to his conviction
- Gloria Ellis, a neighbour of a victim, reveals for the first time how she told police she spotted Shipman at Winifred Mellor’s home at the time of her murder
- Shipman: 5 Mistakes That Caught A Killer airs on Channel 4 on March 12 at 10pm
A key witness who placed murderous doctor Harold Shipman at a murder scene which helped police to convict the serial killer has spoken publicly for the first time.
Gloria Ellis was the next-door neighbour of Winifred Mellor – one of the hundreds of victims who died at the hands of Shipman in Hyde, Greater Manchester in the 1990s.
In a new Channel 5 documentary – Shipman: 5 Mistakes That Caught A Killer – Gloria recalls how she saw the doctor visit the 73-year-old widow’s home where, unbeknownst to her, she was murdered.
He then returned hours later and feigned the discovery of her dead body, after Gloria let him in with a spare key.
Gloria Ellis was the next-door neighbour of Winifred Mellor. In a new documentary, Gloria recalls how she saw the doctor visit the 73-year-old widow’s home where – unbeknownst to her – she was murdered, before returning hours later. She let him into her neighbour’s home where he feigned the discovery of her body
In 1999 Shipman, then 52, was convicted of the murders of 15 of his patients, including Winifred. But further inquiries found evidence he killed more than 250 victims during his medical career, 80 per cent of which were elderly women.
Speaking in the Channel 5 documentary about the five key mistakes Shipman made that led to him being caught, Gloria explains how her testimony helped police connect him to a crime scene, resulting in his conviction.
Recalling the afternoon when Winifred was murdered in her own home on Corona Avenue, Hyde, on May 11, 1998, Gloria explained: ‘I was Winifred Mellor’s friend and neighbour.
‘I was doing my ironing at about three o’clock when I saw a man pull up. He came up the street and up past my window.
In 1999, Harold Shipman, then 52, (pictured) was convicted of the murders of 15 of his patients including Winifred. But later inquiries found evidence he killed more than 250 victims during his medical career – 80 per cent of which were elderly women
‘I heard Mrs Mellor’s gate go because I heard a clinky noise, so I assumed he’d gone into Mrs Mellor’s. He had short hair, a grey beard with a moustache, glasses on and a maroon car, and that’s when I saw him. I knew it was three o’clock because I had to leave and pick up my children from school.
FIVE MISTAKES THAT CAUGHT OUT HAROLD SHIPMAN
1) Established a suspicious pattern by killing elderly women
2) Lied to a victim’s neighbour
3) Forged a victim’s will
4) Used morphine as a killer drug
5) Failed to understand his own computer system.
‘I came back, and I was watching BBC News at six o’clock when he knocked at the door.
‘The same man that had been there in the afternoon was there and asked if I had a spare key for Mrs Mellor’s house.
‘I said to him, “I’ve seen you before, you were here this afternoon” and he turned around abruptly and for some reason, I didn’t know why, he was annoyed that I’d seen him in the afternoon.
‘We went into the house and Mrs Mellor was sat up proper, fully dressed, and she just looked like she’d gone to sleep. I sat outside and cried, I’d never seen anyone dead and she was a friend, a lovely friend.’
At first, Gloria regarded Shipman as just another GP on a house call, until he started appearing on the news regularly, which is when she went to the police.
‘I remember seeing it on the telly. It was a film of his surgery and him coming out the back,’ she recalled.
Winifred Mellor, pictured, was one of the hundreds of victims of the serial killer doctor, who took the life of his patients in Hyde, Greater Manchester in the 1990s
‘I said, “That’s him, he’s the one I saw at Mrs Mellor’s. That’s his car as well.” I was shocked. Really shocked.
‘I thought, “It’s got to be him. He’s got to have murdered Mrs Mellor.”‘
Gloria then spoke to the police, sparking a breakthrough in the case as this was the first time they could tie Shipman to a place and time of death.
But it wasn’t only Gloria’s testimony that helped to convict Shipman. Local priest Father Denis Maher, who is now retired from working at St Paul’s Church in Hyde, explains in the documentary how he had an unusually high number of parishioners who died suddenly.
‘I would go to visit a family after a patient died, and it would come up that they were a patient of Dr Shipman,’ Father Maher explained.
Recalling coming to Winifred’s home to meet her family following her death, Father Maher revealed that Dr Shipman also appeared on the doorstep.
Local priest Father Denis Maher, pictured, who is now retired from working at St Paul’s Church in Hyde, explains in the documentary how he had an unusually high number of parishioners who died suddenly
‘Shortly after I arrived, the doorbell rang. I opened the door, Dr Shipman breezed past and went immediately for his three daughters. He said there was no need for the post-mortem or an autopsy because he’d seen her in her final days and could sign the death certificate.’
Both the local funeral directors and another GP practice in the area also had suspicions about the doctor – but an initial police investigation saw no cause for concern.
Bernard Postles, the retired Detective Chief Superintendent in charge of the investigation, explained: ‘Funeral directors noticed many patients were dying in same circumstances. The pattern was many of these people were fully dressed and sitting up, with a cup of tea by their side, it looked to be it was a sudden event, but it was very unusual for people to die in that situation.
‘People were still going about their daily business and suddenly died. They began to talk to other professionals in the town about it.’
A group of GPs from a surgery across the road from Shipman’s practice were often asked to sign a form as a secondary to allow the patients to be cremated.
Bernard Postles, the retired Detective Chief Superintendent in charge of the investigation, explained: ‘Funeral directors noticed many patients were dying in same circumstances. The pattern was many of these people were fully dressed and sitting up, with a cup of tea by their side, it looked to be it was a sudden event, but it was very unusual for people to die in that situation’
The documentary explains how Shipman’s first mistake was establishing a pattern and drawing attention to himself, which established his nickname of ‘Dr Death’ long before a police investigation.
But it wasn’t until he forged one of his victim’s wills that everything led to him and concerns were raised.
Clumsily he used his own typewriter, the keystrokes of which matched the words on the document exactly.
A police computer expert described how he examined Shipman’s PC and found he had falsified his patients’ medical records after they died in an attempt to prove that they had been seriously ill.
‘His big mistake there was thinking the computer would erase the earlier entries. Shipman was unaware that all the previous information remains stored on the machine forever,’ he explains.
Another error was his murder method. He injected his victims with morphine, which stays in the system long after death. When the police began digging up some of his patients’ bodies, a pathologist found the drug still present in many of them.
Later, Shipman tried to claim that one elderly victim was a drug addict who administered the morphine herself. But by then, detectives had proof he was a liar.
Shipman: 5 Mistakes That Caught A Killer airs on Thursday 12 March at 10pm on Channel 5.
Source: Read Full Article