IN A shock development yesterday, Judge James Black aborted the trial of Goonellabah GP Prasanna Mishra, who is charged with sexually assaulting a female patient.
Judge Black discharged the jury and ordered a date be set aside for the case to be mentioned.
Dr Mishra faces two charges – one of performing sexual intercourse without consent and a second of assault with an act of indecency.
The jury on the sixth and final day of the trial had expected to hear summing up from the Crown prosecutor and Dr Mishra's defence barrister, Phillip Bolton, SC, followed by the judge's summary.
The eight-man, four-woman panel would have then retired to reach its verdict.
But after hearing from the prosecutor in closed court, Judge Black called the jury back in to deliver the “significant” news.
“On Friday the Crown prosecutor became aware of some information, which has to be properly looked into,” Judge Black said.
“As to where it leads remains to be seen.
“But it has led me to decide that it would be unfair for you to continue with this matter.”
He added it was “very annoying” and apologised to the jury.
“There are many reasons why juries have to be discharged,” he said.
It would be disappointing for the jury, after they had followed the trial so closely for five days, to be unable to enter a verdict. Judge Black thanked them for their diligence.
“It is a most unfortunate situation but I have no other option. I'm not going to say any more. Don't speculate. It would not be rewarding,” he said.
A female patient had alleged Dr Mishra sexually assaulted her during a consultation at the Goonellabah Medical Centre in November 2008.
The doctor had been treating her for depression since August, claimed the woman, who cannot be named.
On the day in question, after she had complained of stomach pains, Dr Mishra had told her to lie on the examination table.
It is alleged he then removed her shorts and underpants and placed his bare fingers inside her vagina.
She told police he had then moved his fingers in a sexual manner before taking her hand and placing it upon his exposed penis.
He is then alleged to have turned away and masturbated.
The matter was adjourned for mention on April 11.
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