Former Bundaberg surgeon Jayant Patel may soon leave the country after shaking off charges of criminal negligence that have pursued him for years.
Former Queensland surgeon Jayant Patel could soon return to the US after criminal negligence allegations that have dogged him for almost a decade were dropped.
Patel, 63, sat quietly when he was formally discharged from the indictments in the Supreme and District courts in Brisbane on Friday.
Minutes earlier he’d 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 former US resident remained tight-lipped as he left court on bail with his wife Kishoree, but according to his barrister he’s hoping to return to the States.
In the ten years since India-born Patel began work as director of surgery at Bundaberg Base Hospital, he’s faced three trials and spent two-and-a-half years in jail over allegations he killed and maimed patients.
Patel was sentenced to seven years’ prison in 2010 after a jury convicted him of killing three patients and causing the grievous bodily harm of another.
However he was released last year following a successful High Court appeal, and separate re-trials were ordered.
The former surgeon was acquitted in March of killing patient Mervyn Morris and last month a jury was unable to decide whether he was guilty of maiming Ian Vowles.
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 $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 on Friday.
The reaction from his former patients and relatives ranged from devastation to relief.
“I just can’t believe that it’s all come to this,” former patient and patient advocate Beryl Crosby told AAP.
“Now he (Patel) walks, the patients are left to pick up the pieces.”
“I’m just glad that it’s going to be all over and I’d like to see him just sent back to America,” said Vilma Blight, whose late husband Darcy Blight was operated on by Patel.
Sixty-six-year-old Mr Vowles, who believes the surgeon removed his bowel unnecessarily, was disappointed: “I thought there definitely should have been a decision made one way or the other, guilty or not guilty,” he said.
However Mr Vowles said Patel had not “gotten off scot-free”.
“He’s been over here for so many years away from his family and his own home environment,” he said.
“That would have been a burden for him to bear.”
Patel is due to be sentenced for fraud next Thursday.