The man who has presided over more than 23,000 autopsies

Since qualifying as a doctor in 1977, Richard Shepherd has witnessed enough trauma to last several lifetimes. He spoke to James Rampton about how he has dealt with the psychological effects of a profession that demands both a strong stomach and a sense of humour

Tuesday 05 October 2021 00:01
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<p>Dr Shepherd’s work has involved him in some of the most shocking tragedies that have befallen the world over the past 40 years</p>

Dr Shepherd’s work has involved him in some of the most shocking tragedies that have befallen the world over the past 40 years

Dr Richard Shepherd, one of the country’s most distinguished forensic pathologists, has led a life immersed in death.

He has presided over more than 23,000 autopsies, and his work has involved him in some of the most shocking tragedies that have befallen the world over the past 40 years: 9/11, 7/7, the death of Princess Diana, the murder of Stephen Lawrence, the serial killings of Dr Harold Shipman, the Hungerford massacre, the suicide of Dr David Kelly, the Cumbria shootings, the murder of Jo Cox MP and the Bali bombings.

Since qualifying as a doctor in 1977, Shepherd has witnessed enough trauma to last several lifetimes. And yet he remained, apparently, unaffected by all the death and devastation he had seen – until one tiny, seemingly innocuous moment in 2016 changed everything.

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