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Doctor death

21 November 2011

Anyone living in the south-coast town of Eastbourne in the late 1950s would be familiar with the name Dr John Bodkin Adams. His murder trial was (at the time) the longest in British legal history, but, instead of going to the gallows, remarkably, the overweight doctor was acquitted on 10 April 1957 and resumed medical practice in Eastbourne some four years later. But was he an angel of mercy or an unconvicted mass murderer who killed his patients decades before we heard the name Harold Shipman?

Adams, a chocoholic Northern Irish Methodist, amassed a considerable fortune from legacies he had been left in the wills of his former patients. He ran his practice from a large Victorian house called Kent Lodge and seemed to specialise in wealthy elderly clients like Bobbie Hullett, second wife of a retired Lloyd’s underwriter, Jack Hullett.

After Jack’s death, Bobbie suffered from depression so Adams prescribed barbiturates to help her sleep.

On Thursday 19 July 1956...

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