SYDNEY – An American doctor accused of botching a string of operations while he was the chief surgeon at an Australian hospital was last night found guilty of killing three of his patients and grievously harming another.
Jayant Patel, 60, was remanded in custody until he is sentenced tomorrow after a Brisbane Supreme Court jury returned guilty verdicts on all charges against him after about 50 hours of deliberation.
Patel, once dubbed “Dr Death”, had pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Mervyn Morris, Gerardus Kemps and James Phillips and causing grievous bodily harm to Ian Vowles.
He treated the patients while working as director of surgery between 2003 and 2005 at Bundaberg Base Hospital in Queensland. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.
The 15-week trial came more than 25 years after questions were first raised about Patel’s competency, and is a milestone for many former patients who have waited years to face the man they accuse of irreparably damaging their lives.
The trial heard that Patel had been banned by United States authorities from carrying out some of the procedures he undertook when he later moved to Australia.
He had not told his new employers about the restrictions.
At the trial, prosecutor Ross Martin described Patel as a “bad surgeon motivated by ego” who tried to restore his reputation by carrying out surgery he was not competent to perform.
Patel did not speak at the trial, but his defence lawyer said he was a hardworking doctor devoted to his patients.