Doctor Jayant Patel cleared of manslaughter charge in Australia



Melbourne: In a relief to Indian-origin surgeon Jayant Patel, an Australian court on Wednesday found him not guilty of manslaughter of an elderly patient nearly a decade ago.

Patel, 62, the former director of surgery at Bundaberg Base Hospital, had pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Mervyn John Morris, 75, who died on June 14, 2003, three weeks after he removed part of his bowel to treat rectal bleeding.

It was the second time Patel stood for the manslaughter trial of Morris. He was convicted of killing Morris and two other patients in June 2010.

After a four week trial, a Brisbane Supreme Court jury found Patel not guilty of killing Morris.

The prosecution had said Patel was grossly negligent, that he had not properly diagnosed the bleeding and that he made the wrong decision to operate and failed to properly manage the man's post-operative care.

Patel's defence team argued Patel had an "honest and reasonable belief" that the operation at the Bundaberg Base Hospital was necessary, and that his actions were supported by a number of expert witnesses.

It was the second time Patel stood for the manslaughter trial of Morris. He was convicted of killing Morris and two other patients in June 2010.

Patel, an Indian-born US citizen, was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2010 after being convicted of the manslaughter of three patients and causing grievous bodily harm to another.

He was released from prison on the High Court's order, after serving two years and two months of a sentence handed down in 2010.

Separate retrials were ordered for the charges related to each patient.

Outside court, Patel's senior defence barrister Ken Fleming said the surgeon was "very happy" at his acquittal, but could not speak publicly because he still faced outstanding charges.

He was committed to stand trial in 2009 on 13 charges in total, including eight of fraud and a second of grievous bodily harm. Those charges have never been tried.

Fleming said he would "soon" be making a submission to the state's Director of Public Prosecutions for him to drop those outstanding charges.

He said justice had been done today and praised the seven-woman, five-man jury for its intelligence and inquisitive nature.

"(The trial) has been long and hard, but the evidence was there and the jury acted responsibly and well. They worked very hard," Fleming said.

PTI