Australian court quashes Indian surgeon's convictions

An Australian court Friday quashed an Indian-born surgeon's manslaughter convictions over the deaths of three patients, saying there had been a miscarriage of justice in his trial.

Jayant Patel, dubbed "Dr. Death" by the Australian media, was jailed for seven years in July 2010 after a jury found him guilty of criminal negligence resulting in the deaths of three patients and permanent injury to a fourth.

But the High Court on Friday dismissed the convictions and ordered a retrial, saying radically changed their case on the 43rd day of the 58-day trial in a way which rendered much of the evidence irrelevant.

"The prejudicial effect on the jury was not overcome by the directions given by the trial judge," the High Court said.

"A substantial miscarriage of justice occurred."

Patel was convicted in Queensland's Supreme Court of three counts of manslaughter and one of unlawfully doing grievous bodily harm over he conducted at the Bundaberg Base Hospital between 2003 and 2004.

At the time, prosecutors successfully argued the operations were either unnecessary or inappropriate.

But the High Court said the prosecution initially alleged Patel had been "generally incompetent and grossly negligent in recommending the surgical procedures, in the manner in which he carried out those procedures, and in the post-operative treatment which he supervised".

"But on day 43 of the trial, the prosecution narrowed its case to focus on whether the in each case should have been undertaken."

Patel initially lost his appeal against his conviction and sentence but the High Court granted him special leave to appeal.

The court said Friday that during the trial, the provided much evidence criticising Patel's surgical skills and post-operative care "to establish its original case that.... (he) had been grossly negligent in all aspects of his treatment of the patients".

"As the trial progressed it became apparent, and it was not seriously disputed, that the evidence showed that the surgery had in fact been performed competently enough," it said.

The court said prosecutors then radically changed their case to focus on Patel's decision to do the surgical procedures in the first place, but by then much of the evidence the jury had heard was prejudicial and irrelevant.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Appeals court orders new trial in Brocade case

Aug 18, 2009

(AP) -- A federal appeals court has tossed out the criminal conviction of the first Silicon Valley executive to go to trial in a stock options scandal that triggered charges against at least a dozen executives.

Court Denies Vonage Bid for Patent Case Retrial

May 04, 2007

A U.S. appeals court denies a request by Internet phone company Vonage Holdings that it order a retrial in the patent infringement case brought against it by Verizon Communications.

New trial set for June in Oracle, SAP case

Feb 29, 2012

A US judge on Tuesday set a June date for a new trial in a long-running copyright infringement case between US business software giant Oracle and its German rival SAP.

Recommended for you

Surrogate offers clues into man with 16 babies

3 hours ago

When the young Thai woman saw an online ad seeking surrogate mothers, it seemed like a life-altering deal: $10,000 to help a foreign couple that wanted a child but couldn't conceive.

Nurses go on strike in Ebola-hit Liberia

3 hours ago

Nurses at Liberia's largest hospital went on strike on Monday, demanding better pay and equipment to protect them against a deadly Ebola epidemic which has killed hundreds in the west African nation.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge arrives in North Korea

Aug 31, 2014

It's pretty hard to find a novel way to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by now, but two-time Grammy-winning rapper Pras Michel, a founding member of the Fugees, has done it—getting his dousing in the center ...

Cold cash just keeps washing in from ALS challenge

Aug 28, 2014

In the couple of hours it took an official from the ALS Association to return a reporter's call for comment, the group's ubiquitous "ice bucket challenge" had brought in a few million more dollars.

Medtronic spends $350M on another European deal

Aug 27, 2014

U.S. medical device maker Medtronic is building stronger ties to Europe, a couple months after announcing a $42.9 billion acquisition that involves moving its main executive offices across the Atlantic, where it can get a ...

User comments