Australia jails Indian-origin doctor for negligence

By Indo Asian News Service | Thursday, November 21, 2013 | 4:24:05 PM IST (+05:30 GMT) Comment 0 Comment

Sydney, Nov 21 (IANS) Indian-origin doctor Jayant Patel, charged with medical negligence that caused the deaths of at least two patients, was sentenced to two years in jail by an Australian court Thursday.

Sydney, Nov 21 (IANS) Indian-origin doctor Jayant Patel, charged with medical negligence that caused the deaths of at least two patients, was sentenced to two years in jail by an Australian court Thursday.

The sentence, however, is "wholly suspended", meaning Patel, who spent 788 days in jail after a conviction in 2010, will not immediately be expected to serve it out.

Brisbane District Court Judge Terry Martin Thursday awarded the sentence to Patel for fraudulently registering as a doctor in Queensland, the Brisbane Times reported.

The court heard that Patel failed to inform Queensland health authorities of the restrictions upon him in the US while applying for the position of senior medical officer at Bundaberg Hospital.

Crown prosecutor Peter Davis QC said this amounted to "serious fraud" and recommended that Patel be sentenced to four years imprisonment, but the judge allowed the former surgeon to walk free.

Patel was charged with killing Gerry Kemps, 77, and James Phillips, 46, and causing bodily harm to Ian Rodney Vowles in the Bundaberg Base Hospital in Queensland.

Patel thanked his supporters and his legal team outside the court, and said he looked forward to returning to his family and work in the US.

"I'm pleased that it's over and I'll be going back to my life and my work. And in this season of giving thanks I would like to thank to my legal team ... for the exceptional work they've done," Patel was quoted as saying.

He avoided questions hurled at him by the media.

Judge Martin said that with this judgment, a lengthy, tragic chapter in the history of Queensland had ended. "Of course, you are the author of all the misfortune of your totally undeserved employment in Queensland," the judge said.

The court was told that Patel had been effectively struck off by medical boards in the US over complaints about his competence.

Patel spent a total of 788 days behind bars after being convicted in 2010 of unlawfully killing one patient and causing grievous bodily harm to another and served 131 days of pre-sentence custody.

Brisbane's Supreme Court in March this year found Patel not guilty of criminal negligence.

Last week, Queensland's Director of Public Prosecutions, Tony Moynihan, QC decided not to pursue cases against the surgeon.

Gujarat-born Patel had a controversial tenure in the Bundaberg Base Hospital from 2003 to early 2005, during which over 80 deaths were linked to him -- 30 patients died in his care.

After that, he left for Portland, Oregon, in the US.

He was, however, extradited to Australia in 2008 to face trial.

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