Former Bundaberg Base Hospital head of surgery Jayant Patel has been found guilty of three counts of manslaughter and one count of grievous bodily harm.
Former Bundaberg Base Hospital head of surgery Jayant Patel has been found guilty of three counts of manslaughter and one count of grievous bodily harm. Brisbane Times

Patel found guilty on all counts

  THE surgeon once dubbed "Dr Death" has been found guilty of killing three patients and permanently injuring another.

After about 50 hours of deliberation, the Brisbane Supreme Court jury in the manslaughter trial of Jayant Patel announced it had finally reached a verdict about 5.40pm (AEST) on Tuesday.

Patel arrived back in court flanked by his lawyers and his wife Kishoree, who has been present for the duration of his 15-week trial.

Stony-faced, he stood in the dock as the jury announced he was guilty of the manslaughter of Mervyn Morris, Gerardus Kemps and James Phillips.

The jury also found him guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to Ian Vowles.

The charges all relate to Patel's time as director of surgery at the Bundaberg Base Hospital between 2003 and 2005.

Justice John Byrne agreed to a request by crown prosecutor Ross Martin SC to delay sentencing Patel until Thursday morning.

Justice Byrne, however, refused to allow the former doctor to remain on bail until then.

Mrs Patel left the courtroom in tears as her husband - who became known in Queensland as "Dr Death" after he fled to the US in 2005 - was led from the dock to the cells, and she declined to speak to waiting media outside the court.

During the trial the court was told Patel caused the deaths or injuries by performing the wrong operations on the wrong patients, in a hospital that could not support this sort of major surgery.

Prosecutor Ross Martin said there was evidence Patel was a man driven by "toxic ego", who performed surgeries that were beyond his level of skill.

The court heard Patel caused Mr Morris' death in June 2003 because he failed to properly investigate the cause of his rectal bleeding, and unnecessarily removed part of his colon.

Mr Phillips, 46, was so unwell that he was an unsuitable candidate for an oesophagectomy performed by Patel in May 2003, and the hospital's intensive care unit was ill-equipped to manage his post-operative care.

Mr Kemps died because Patel rushed an oesophagectomy without proper planning, and then allowed him to bleed to death.

The court was told Patel then failed to diagnose Mr Kemps' internal bleeding, and delayed taking him back into theatre.

He then stitched the patient back up while he was still bleeding profusely.

The jury was told Patel caused Ian Vowles grievous bodily harm in October 2004 by unnecessarily removing a large section of his bowel, despite polyps showing no signs of cancer.

The court was told Patel came to Bundaberg knowing that he had been disciplined for "gross negligence" in the US in 2000.

Under the US order, he was required to seek a second opinion when performing major operations like oesophagectomies.

While this order did not affect his legal ability to undertake such procedures in Australia, Patel failed to disclose this information to his colleagues, employers or patients.

Before retiring to deliberate, the jury was told they could consider whether knowledge of previous disciplinary action for gross negligence would have affected the patients' decision to give their consent, or whether it would have given Patel cause to reflect on his own abilities in offering the surgery to them.

Outside the court Mr Kemps' wife, Judy, said she was incredibly relieved to see Patel finally brought to justice.

"It's been a long five years but it's all over," she said.

"It's just all confusing, but I'm just so happy ... I'm free, I'm free.

"It's closure alright."

Patient advocate Beryl Crosby said it was a huge relief.

"I hope with all my heart that these people and their families can move on," she said.

She said it didn't matter to her if Patel got off later on a technicality in the Court of Appeal.

"For a lot of people this is going to be closure.

"The verdict was guilty, it doesn't matter what happens from here."FORMER surgeon Jayant Patel has been found guilty of killing three patients and permanently injuring another.


  

Chronology

1998– Kaiser Hospital, USA, reviews 79 of Dr Patel's patients, leading to the hospital restricting his practice.

2000 – Dr Patel's practice restricted statewide in Oregon, USA.

MAY 23, 2003– Dr Patel removed part of Mervyn Morris's bowel and fitted him with a colostomy bag.

APRIL 2003– James Phillips diagnosed with oesophageal cancer.

MAY 2003– Mr Phillips undergoes an oesophagectomy. He died two days later.

JUNE 11, 2003– Mr Morris treated for malnutrition.

JUNE 14, 2003– Mr Morris dies.

OCTOBER 2004– an Vowles undergoes a colonoscopy performed by Dr Patel.  His bowel is removed and he is fitted with a colostomy bag. He is left permanently injured.

DECEMBER 20, 2004– Gerry Kemps undergoes an oesophagectomy performed by Dr Patel.  He is later operated on for a second time following concerns over bleeding.

DECEMBER 21, 2004– Gerry Kemps dies from post-operative bleeding.

MARCH 22, 2005 – Member for Burnett Rob Messenger raises the concerns of whistleblower nurse Toni Hoffmann in state parliament about Dr Patel.

APRIL 1, 2005 – Dr Patel leaves Bundaberg for Portland, Oregon.

MAY 23, 2005 – Morris Inquiry opens to investigate the issues surrounding Patel.

JUNE 10, 2005 – Interim Morris Inquiry reports recommends Patel be charged with murder or manslaughter, negligent acts and fraud and that extradition proceedings should begin.

SEPTEMBER 1, 2005 – The Supreme Court finds in favour legal action by former Bundaberg Hospital bosses Peter Leck and Dr Darren Keating and found the inquiry had showed bias. It was ordered to be shut down the next day.

SEPTEMBER 8, 2005 – The Davies Inquiry opens as the second public hospital inquiry that was triggered by outrage from patients and others.

NOVEMBER 30, 2005 - Davies hands down his report, recommending charges of manslaughter and other criminal charges. The report also links Patel to 17 deaths.
2006

FEBRUARY 6, 2006 – Police refer evidence brief to Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions (QDPP

JUNE 2, 2006 – QDPP sends draft affidavit to the federal attorney-general’s office

JUNE 22, 2006 – Queensland Attorney-General Linda Lavarch rejects offer by Patel to voluntarily return to face charges, as his conditions are unacceptable.

NOVEMBER 22, 2006 – Brisbane magistrate issues warrant for Patel’s arrest on charges, including three of manslaughter and five of causing grievous bodily harm.
2007

OCTOBER 2, 2007 – Australia lodges formal request for extradition with US authorities, after six draft documents.

OCTOBER 19, 2007 – US authorities dissatisfied with “one small issue” in documents.

JANUARY, 2008 – US Department of Justice resolve “small issue”.

JANUARY 30, 2008 – US department of Justice lodge extradition with Oregon district Attorney.

FEBURARY 18, 2008 – Federal attorney-general’s office says case will go to US District Court “quite soon”.

MARCH 12, 2008 – Patel arrested by FBI agents in Oregon.

APRIL 6, 2008 – Patel is denied bail.

APRIL 10, 2008 – Patel seeks a delay of at least three weeks of the scheduled April 18 extradition hearing. The request is granted.

APRIL 24, 2008 – Patel wins the right to examine the detailed medical records of the Australian patients he is accused of harming or causing the death of.

MAY 12, 2008 – Patel’s extradition hearing is again delayed by a month from May 27 to June 26.

MAY 28, 2008 – Patel’s US Lawyer Marc Blackman seeks more time to request bail, alleging Queensland police “bungled” paperwork. A three week delay on the extradition hearing is granted.

JUNE 26, 2008 – Patel drops his fight against extradition.

JUNE 27, 2008 – Patel signs extradition agreement. His application for bail is adjourned.

JUNE 29, 2008 – Judge Dennis Hubel denies Dr Patel’s request for bail, following his extradition to Australia, ahead of a July 21 deadline.

JULY 16, 2008 – Queensland Police commissioner Bob Atkinson confirmed two Queensland Police officers had left Brisbane to escort Dr Patel to Brisbane.

JULY 20, 2008 – US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice approves Dr Patel’s extradition.

JULY 21, 2008 – Patel is granted bail by the Brisbane Magistrates Court.

SEPTEMBER 1, 2008 – Date for Patel’s committal hearing set for February 9.
2009

FEBRUARY 9, 2009 – Committal hearing gets under way.

APRIL 20, 2009 – Patel is committed to stand trial on 14 charges, including manslaughter, causing grievous bodily harm, and fraud.
2010

MARCH 22, 2010 – Patel’s trial on four charges – three of manslaughter, one of causing grievous bodily harm – starts in the Supreme Court in Brisbane.

JUNE 29, 2010 – After 14 weeks of evidence and regular stoppages due to legal argument, the jury returns with a verdict of guilty.




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