Charges against Indian-origin surgeon Jayant Patel dropped in Australia

Last Updated: Fri, Nov 15, 2013 09:35 hrs

Melbourne: An Indian-origin doctor, accused of manslaughter of several patients in Australia, is likely to walk free after prosecutors today dropped all criminal medical negligence charges against him, ending his long-running legal woes.

Jayant Patel, 63, did not react when he was formally discharged from the indictments in the Supreme and District courts in Brisbane.

During the hearing, Prosecutor Peter Davissaid the crown would not be pursuing criminal medical negligence charges against Patel, an Indian-born US citizen, after deciding it was not in the interests of justice.

The Director of Public Prosecutions cited the amount of time that had passed, the time Patel has already spent in jail, the strength of Patel's defence and the cost of litigation, more than USD 3 million, as factors in his decision.

"In all the circumstances...I have decided that it is not in the public interest to continue the counts alleging criminal negligence against Jayant Patel," Director of Public Prosecutions Tony Moynihan said in a statement.

Justice Glenn Martin told Patel he was discharged in relation to all charges before the court.

Patel was facing trial ontwo charges of manslaughter, two of grievous bodily harm, an alternative charge of negligent acts causing harm, seven counts of fraud and one of attempted fraud.

Earlier, he pleaded guilty to fraud for dishonestly working as a medical practitioner in Queensland, the only charges the Director of Public Prosecutions chose to pursue, the AAP news agency reported.

Patel will be sentenced in the District Court next week.

The Crown Prosecutor told the court that Patel's plea of guilty to four counts of fraud "appropriately reflects" hiscriminality in relation to the fraud allegation.

Patel remained tight-lipped as he left court on bail with his wife Kishoree, but according to his barrister he is hoping to return to America.

In the ten years since Patel began work as director of surgery at Bundaberg Base Hospital in Queensland, he has faced three trials and spent two-and-a-half years in jail over allegations he killed and maimed patients.

Patel, who was dubbed 'Dr Death' by the media here, was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2010 after a jury convicted him of killing three patients and causing the grievous bodily harm to another.

However, he was released last year following a successful High Court appeal, and separate re-trials were ordered.

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