AN INQUEST jury decided serial killer Harold Shipman killed himself because he could not face the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison.
The former GP, who is believed to have killed about 250 of his patients, was found hanging from a ligature in his cell at Wakefield Prison on January 13, 2004.
A 10-day inquest at Leeds Crown Court heard that Shipman had threatened to take his own life on a number of occasions and kept a secret diary, which revealed a man in "deep despair".
The 57-year-old knew that his wife, Primrose, who had been experiencing financial difficulties following his conviction, would receive a widow's pension and the maximum lump sum from a policy if he was to die before his 60th birthday.
The jury of three men and five women reached a narrative verdict after five hours of deliberations, which the jury foreman read to the inquest.
In January 2000 Shipman was convicted of murdering 15 of his patients and was sentenced to life in prison.
A public inquiry into his crimes found that he probably killed about 250 people as he practised in Todmorden and Pontefract and later at his surgery in Hyde, Greater Manchester.
The inquest had heard that Shipman had become depressed after his privileges were cut to the minimum level, just weeks before his death.
Visits and phone calls were dramatically reduced,
and after an appeal against the decision failed on December 17, he broke down and appeared close to tears as he told the prison doctor he could not afford to ring his wife.
But just days before his death, his status was restored again and Shipman appeared settled and in good spirits.
Nothing in his behaviour or his demeanour gave a clue as to what he was about to do. He continued to play cards, go the gym and write letters to his wife.
On the night before his death he rang his wife and told her he would ring her the next day.
Just before he was locked in his cell for the last time, he filled out a visiting form for his wife and handed it to an officer just before the 7.30pm deadline.
The cell door was closed 30 minutes later, and Shipman sat down at his desk as he did every night. It was last time he was seen alive.
Shipman had always insisted that he would never serve a life sentence and had made it "common knowledge" that he would kill himself once his wife's pension was resolved. He had been on a number of "self-harm watches" and was considered a long-term suicide risk by the prison service.