By Tony Gardner IN JUST a few short years Shipman went from being a pillar of the community as a respected GP to a "celebrity" guest in the top security jail dubbed Monster Mansion.
Housed alongside some of the most twisted human beings in the country, it seems Shipman soon had plenty of admirers after being moved to Wakefield jail.
Many of them – themselves notorious serial killers or high profile sex offenders – were keen to speak out on behalf of Shipman despite having known him for just seven months.
Several took to the stand at the inquest to give evidence which provided a rare snapshot into the bizarre world of Wakefield's D-wing.
Prostitute killer David Smith described Shipman as his "best friend" who got to know him when he learned the disgraced doctor had a Scrabble board shortly after his arrival at the jail in June 2003.
Retired lorry driver Smith was jailed six years ago for murdering vice girl Amanda Walker and burying her body in a shallow grave in woodland in Surrey.
Smith picked up Miss Walker, originally from Leeds, in central London after attending a party for "broadminded adults."
He had sex with her, killed and mutilated her and dumped her blood-stained clothing on a footpath a mile from his home.
Smith and Shipman were one half of a card school which gathered around a table on landing three of the wing each evening before 'lock-up'.
John Taylor was another member of the card-playing group. Sex killer Taylor, 49, was jailed for the abduction and murder of Leeds teenager Leanne Tiernan in 2000.
Leanne, 16, from Bramley was abducted on her way home from a shopping trip in Leeds city centre with her best friend.
Her remains were found in Lindley Wood nine months later. She had been strangled and her body kept in a deep freeze for months before her killer buried her remains in a shallow grave, wrapped in plastic bags.
Taylor, who has since been convicted of raping two other women in the 1980s, was one of the inmates to name prison officers Delwyn Marshall and Spencer Shoemaker at the inquest and accuse them of offering supply Shipman with rope to hang himself.
Another lifer, Richard 'The Beast of Bodmin' Baker claimed officer Marshall had sung "Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's down to basic we go" after Shipman's privileges were removed – a decision Baker told coroner David Hinchliff was "brutal".
Baker has been described as one of the worst sex offenders of the last century. The Cornwall disc jockey was jailed for life in 1999 after attacking 12 women aged between 15 and 35 across southern England during an eight-month period.
Described as "wicked and depraved" by a judge, he preyed on his victims in the West Country and was only caught after his brother shopped him to the police after recognising his e-fit on Crimewatch.
Baker introduced himself to Shipman shortly after the GP was moved to Wakefield. He eventually won his friendship and they spent hours together in each other's cell's sharing coffee and biscuits.
The rapist claimed at the hearing that staff would single Shipman out and were determined to "have their pound of flesh".
Perverted Geoffrey Shepherd described how Shipman was held in "high esteem" by those on the wing. Shepherd was jailed in 1999 for the wholesale abuse of a brother and sister aged seven and 15 whom he tied up with rope and forced to have sex.
He told his terrified victims he had supernatural powers to scare them into obeying his orders.
Shipman once talked Shepherd, 62, out of a suicide pact with his fiancee by telling him "life is too precious."
They also offered each other legal advice. Shipman was busy trying to enlist the help of an American toxicologist to kick-start his appeal, while Shepherd had applied for legal aid for a High court bid to be moved from the jail over his claims that prison offers wanted to kill him.
Gary Howat, the fourth member of Shipman's card school, told how Shipman would regularly hold impromptu surgeries for prisoners in his cell or as they queued to use the telephone. Shipman would offer the diabetic Howat advice on his diet.
Gay serial killer Peter Moore was another member of Shipman's inner circle of friends.
Moore, a theatre owner, murdered and mutilated four men in 1995 in rural towns in north Wales.
Moore, from Rhyl, who boasted that he stabbed his victims "for fun", said he always referred to Shipman as 'The Doctor.' He had become "quite friendly" with Shipman as they walked in the exercise yard.
They would often discuss Shipman's English Literature course which he had started at Wakefield and the GP told him about his research for a book he was writing on Napoleon.
Moore also suggested that Shipman write an autobiography, to which he replied: "There's plenty of time for that."