Harold Frederick Shipman (14 January 1946 – 13 January 2004) was an English general practitioner and one of the most prolific serial killers in recorded history. On 31 January 2000, a jury found Shipman guilty of fifteen murders for killing patients under his care. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with the recommendation that he never be released.
The Shipman Inquiry, a two-year-long investigation of all deaths certified by Shipman, which was chaired by Dame Janet Smith, examined Shipman’s crimes. The inquiry identified 218 victims and estimated his total victim count at 250, about 80% of whom were elderly women. His youngest confirmed victim was a 41-year-old man, although “significant suspicion” arose concerning patients aged as young as four.
Much of Britain’s legal structure concerning health care and medicine was reviewed and modified as a result of Shipman’s crimes. He is the only British doctor to have been found guilty of murdering his patients, although other doctors have been acquitted of similar crimes or convicted on lesser charges.
Shipman died on 13 January 2004, one day prior to his 58th birthday, by hanging himself in his cell at Wakefield Prison.
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