Extended jail term sought for Indian-origin doctor

Last Updated 20 July 2010, 05:34 IST

Queensland's Attorney-General Cameron Dick in his appeal Monday sought Patel to be declared a serious violent offender for killing three patients and maiming another, Australian news agency AAP reported.

Dubbed Dr Death, Patel was jailed after being found guilty of three counts of manslaughter and one of grievous bodily harm following a lengthy trial in the Supreme Court in Brisbane July 1.

The charges relate to his time as director of surgery at the Bundaberg Base Hospital between 2003 and 2005.

Patel's lawyers have lodged an appeal Thursday against his conviction and sentence.
Court documents reveal Dick will seek an increased sentence on four grounds, arguing it "failed to reflect adequately the gravity of the offences generally and in this case in particular".

Dick's lawyers will also argue the seven-year term failed to take into account general deterrence and gave too much weight to mitigating factors.

The appeal does not give an indication of the proposed jail term; prosecutors originally sought a sentence of at least 10 years.
Under Queensland law, this would automatically see Patel declared a serious violent offender.

According to the court documents, Dick argued that sentencing judge John Byrne erred in not exercising his discretion to make a similar declaration for the lesser sentence.
The attorney general's appeal has been welcomed by widow Judy Kemps, who lost her husband Gerry following an operation by Patel.

However, Kemps said the guilty verdicts were the most important thing for her.
"The verdict was closure for me. My aim has only been that he can't go anywhere else and do it to anybody else," Kemps said.

Bundaberg Hospital Patients Support Group president Beryl Crosby said she was initially happy with the sentence but now believed it wasn't long enough.
"... obviously it's a light sentence when you look at it in that context, so I mean we were really pleased he was doing jail time but I am really really pleased that the Attorney-General has taken this stance," she told the ABC.

Queensland independent MP Rob Messenger, who helped lobby the government to bring Patel to justice, has also thrown his weight behind the Attorney-General's appeal.
However, he has questioned who will pay for the counter appeal lodged by Patel's lawyers last week.

"All the good work that the attorney general has done could come undone if he confirms that it is the Queensland government who is going to pay for Patel's appeal," Messenger said.

A spokesman for Queensland attorney general said the state would not be paying for Patel's appeal against his conviction and sentence.
During his trial in the Brisbane Supreme Court, Indian-born and US-trained, Patel had pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of James Phillips, 46, Gerry Kemps, 77, and Mervyn Morris, 75, who died following surgery performed by him.
He had also pleaded not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to Ian Vowles, whose healthy bowel he removed in October 2004.

The trial involved the evidence of 76 witnesses over 53 days.
The prosecution had said that the operations on the three men should not have been done at Bundaberg as the hospital did not have the resources to cope with such major surgeries.

Patel's barrister Michael Byrne told the jury that Patel had performed the operations for the benefit of his patients. He said that each operation had been carried out with the patient's consent.

(Published 20 July 2010, 05:34 IST)

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