Indian-origin surgeon cleared of manslaughter charge in Australian court

Indian-origin surgeon

In a relief to Indian-origin surgeon and manslaughter convict Jayant Patel, an Australian court today found him not guilty for the death of an elderly patient in 2003, after the Supreme Court ordered his retrial in the three cases of criminal negligence.

Patel, 62, the former director of surgery at Bundaberg Base Hospital, had pleaded not guilty to the death 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 the India-born US citizen 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.

Patel 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.

After the verdict, 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

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