'Dr. Death' Jailed for 7 Yrs by Oz Court for Manslaughter

Natasha Chaku/Melbourne
'Dr. Death' Jailed for 7 Yrs by Oz Court for Manslaughter
Indian-origin doctor Jayant Patel, dubbed as "Dr Death", was today sentenced to seven years in jail after being convicted by an Australian court of manslaughter that led to the death of three patients..

The 60-year-old, now a US citizen, was sentenced to seven years for each case of manslaughter and three years for grievous bodily harm, to be served concurrently.

The sentence was handed out Justice John Byrne of the Queensland state's supreme court in Brisbane. Queensland law allows prisoners to apply for parole after they serve 50 per cent of their sentence.

Earlier Prosecution had asked the jury to sentence Patel, dubbed as "Dr Death" to at least 10 years in jail for the manslaughter of three patients at Bundaberg's Base Hospital between 2003 and 2005.

Prosecutor Ross Martin said Patel had a history of professional misconduct charges in the USA dating back to 1982 and asked for a sentence of at least 10 years, less time Patel served in the US awaiting extradition.

However, Patel's lawyer Michael Byrne said his client had been vilified and shamed and jail would be particularly harsh.

He said Patel should serve four to five years with the term wholly suspended or suspended after a short time.

The case that has gained an immense interest across Australia has prompted Rural Doctors Association of Queensland (RDAQ) warning that the Patel trial has made it harder to attract doctors to the state.

RDAQ spokesman Dan Halliday said one of the legacies of the case has been more stringent vetting of overseas-trained doctors.

He said about 50 per cent of doctors in rural and regional areas are from overseas and the extra checks on their credentials have made some doctors look elsewhere.

"I know of a couple of instances specifically where I believe suitably trained doctors have gone elsewhere, mainly due to the red tape that has been associated with them practising in Queensland," he said.

"We believe that the processes that they've put in place on some cases are too onerous and too restrictive, which has prevented a number of medical owners and practitioners staying in, and coming to, Queensland" added Halliday.
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