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We feel cheated, say relatives

Shipman murdered at least 215 patients, an inquest found
Shipman murdered at least 215 patients, an inquest found

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Convicted serial killer Dr. Harold Shipman was pronounced dead after being found hanging in his prison cell in Northern England (January 13)
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LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Relatives of victims of British mass murderer Harold Shipman said they were devastated the doctor had taken the motive for his killings to the grave after he was found dead in his cell.

The son of one his victims said it would be "desperately hard" for loved ones to cope with never learning why Shipman had killed at least 215 of his patients.

"He's a complete coward," said Royal Air Force lieutenant Danny Mellor, 54, whose 73-year-old mother Winifred was one of Shipman's last three victims. "He has shown his cowardice in the most graphic manner."

Mellor said Shipman, found hanging in Wakefield jail, northern England, on the eve of his 58th birthday, had taken "by far the easiest way out."

"I always harbored the remote possibility that one day I could confront him and ask him why. Now that's been taken away from me."

Shipman murdered his victims, aged between 41 and 93, by lethal injection in his surgery and at their homes in the northwest town of Hyde, between 1975 and 1998.

The lawyer who represents 200 relatives of Shipman's victims said families were struggling to come to terms with his sudden death.

"My clients are shocked and distressed," said Ann Alexander, of Alexander Harris solicitors in Cheshire, northern England.

"They feel very cheated," she told Reuters. "Many of them thought that in years to come he would talk about what he did and, most importantly, why he did it."

Relatives said they were upset Shipman showed no remorse and maintained his innocence even after his January 2000 conviction at Preston Crown Court.

"The anger is still there and I don't think it will ever go away, whether he is alive or dead," said Jane Ashton-Hibbert, whose mother Hilda Hibbert, 81, was killed by Shipman in 1996.

"He has never faced his victims or shown any compassion or remorse," she told Sky News.

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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