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John Bodkin Adams (21 January 1899 – 4 July 1983) was an Irish general practitioner, convicted fraudster and suspected serial killer. Between 1946 and 1956, more than 160 of his patients died in suspicious circumstances. Of these, 132 left him money or items in their wills. He was tried and acquitted for the murder of one patient in 1957. Another count of murder was withdrawn by the prosecution in what was later described as “an abuse of process” by the presiding judge Patrick Devlin, causing questions to be asked in parliament about the prosecution’s handling of events. The trial was featured in headlines around the world and was described at the time as “one of the greatest murder trials of all time” and “murder trial of the century”. It was also described at the time as “unique” because, in the words of the judge, “the act of murder” had “to be proved by expert evidence.”
The trial had several important legal ramifications. It established the doctrine of double effect, whereby a doctor giving treatment with the aim of relieving pain may, as an unintentional result, shorten life. Secondly, because of the publicity surrounding Adams’s committal hearing, the law was changed to allow defendants to ask for such hearings to be held in private. Finally, though a defendant had never been required to give evidence in his own defence, the judge underlined in his summing-up that no prejudice should be attached by the jury to Adams not doing so.
Adams was found guilty in a subsequent trial of 13 offences of prescription fraud, lying on cremation forms, obstructing a police search and failing to keep a dangerous drugs register. He was removed from the Medical Register in 1957 and reinstated in 1961 after two failed applications.
Scotland Yard’s files on the case were initially closed to the public for 75 years, which would be until 2033. However, special permission was granted in 2003 to reopen the files.
The tallest statue in the world, Ushiku Daibutsu.
this always gives me chills