Shipman's body given back to his family

The body of Harold Shipman has been released to his family after an inquest into his death was opened and adjourned.

The body of Harold Shipman has been released to his family after an inquest into his death was opened and adjourned.

The five-minute hearing at Wakefield Coroner's Court heard that the 57-year-old former GP was found hanged in his cell at Wakefield Prison on January 13.

West Yorkshire coroner David Hinchliff was told two post-mortem examinations had provisionally concluded Shipman's death was consistent with being hanged by a ligature.

Mr Hinchliff said he was issuing a cremation order for the doctor and an interim death certificate.

He said: “My understanding is there is no objection by the police or any other person or authority to me now releasing the body to the family for funeral purposes.”

No details were given in court of when and where any funeral will take place.

The coroner added: “I am satisfied as to the identity of Harold Frederick Shipman.

“I will now adjourn this inquest pending the outcome of inquiries.”

The coroner said inquiries were under way by both West Yorkshire Police and UK Prison and Probation Service Ombudsman Stephen Shaw.

He said the inquest will be resumed at a date to be fixed when all inquiries are complete.

The inquest also heard from Detective Superintendent Graham Shaw, who is leading the inquiry for West Yorkshire Police.

Mr Shaw said the police were informed of Shipman’s death at 7.50am on January 13.

The officer said he went to cell D3-36 on D Wing where he saw “the body of a white male laid on a bed”.

Mr Shaw said Shipman was pronounced dead by a member of the prison medical staff at 8.12am.

He said a post-mortem examination was conducted by UK Home Office pathologist Philip Lumb at the Medico-Legal Centre in Sheffield.

Mr Shaw said: “This death was consistent with the fact that Mr Shipman was found hanging from a ligature in his locked cell.”

He said a second post-mortem was carried out on behalf of the family on January 22 but did not differ in its conclusions.

The officer said: “I can confirm I do not require the body of Mr Shipman for any further examination.”

The coroner said Shipman’s body had been formally identified by his wife, Primrose Shipman, on January 14 in Sheffield, UK.

The home address of the former GP, who practised in Hyde, Greater Manchester, was given as Wakefield Prison.

The coroner said he was a former registered medical practitioner who was born in Nottingham on January 14, 1946.

No mention was made during the brief hearing of Shipman’s crimes.

The doctor was jailed for life at Preston Crown Court in January 2000 for murdering 15 patients.

In 2002 British Home Secretary David Blunkett ruled he should spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Dame Janet Smith, who chairs the continuing inquiry into his killings, reported in 2002 that she believed Shipman had killed 215 patients and there was a “real suspicion” over another 45.

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