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John Bodkin Adams is best known for standing trial in the suspicious deaths of 163 former patients in England.
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John Bodkin Adams was born January 21, 1899 in Randalstown, Ireland. Though Adams was not a particularly successful doctor, he kept being placed in the wills of his elderly patients. He also had a tendency to use extremely dangerous drugs, which raised the suspicion of the police, who found 163 of the deaths of his patients questionable. The trial failed to find him guilty of murder.
The case of Dr. John Bodkin Adams is a contentious one due to the fact that the general practitioner was never actually found guilty of murder or professional negligence. However, years after his own death conflicting views remain about whether Bodkin Adams was guilty of murder or euthanasia. To some he is regarded as a forerunner of the medical mass murderer Dr. Harold Shipman, while others believe that he simply carried out mercy killings at a time when painkillers were the only way to alleviate terminal suffering.
Dr. John Bodkin Adams was a general practitioner in the elegant Sussex.seaside town of Eastbourne. An Irish loner, he was seemingly unconcerned about benefiting from gifts and legacies from his elderly, rich patients.
The middle-aged doctor was not known to be an outstanding practitioner, but he was recognized as being compassionate and considerate, particularly to his elderly patients who trusted him. There were, however, other aspects about his modus operandi that caused concern, mainly his tendency to use dangerous drugs, and what some critics have described as a pathological interest in his patients' wills.
Edith Alice Morrell was a patient of Dr. Adams who had been partially paralyzed after suffering a stroke. Adams supplied her with a cocktail of heroin and morphine to ease her discomfort, insomnia and symptoms of 'cerebral irritation' that were a condition of her illness.
During the period of her palliative treatment, Mrs. Morrell made several wills in which Adams received money and items of furniture. But in other wills he was omitted.
Three months before Morrell's death on November 13, 1949, she added a clause to her will stating that Adams was to receive nothing. Despite this clause Dr. Adams, who maintained that Morrell had died from natural causes, still received a small amount of money, cutlery and a Rolls Royce.
The second alleged victim of Dr. Adams did not occur until seven years after Mrs. Morrell had died. Gertrude Hullett was another patient of Dr. Adams who fell ill and then into unconsciousness. Despite not even being dead, Dr. Adams called a local pathologist, Francis Camps, to make an appointment for an autopsy. When Camps realized that Hullett was still alive he accused Adams of 'extreme incompetence'.
On July 23, 1956, Gertrude Hullett died and Adams recorded the cause of death as a brain hemorrhage. An official investigation however, arrived at the conclusion that she had committed suicide. Camps argued that she had been poisoned with sleeping pills. Like Mrs. Morrell before her, Hullett left several valuable items to Dr. Adams, including a Rolls Royce.
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