Patel pleads not guilty

FORMER Bundaberg Hospital director of surgery Jayant Patel has pleaded not guilty in Brisbane Supreme Court to three manslaughter charges and one count of grievous bodily harm.

It has been alleged the former surgeon botched four operations at Bundaberg Hospital between April 2003 and April 2005, causing the deaths of James Phillips, Mervyn Morris and Gerry Kemps, and the permanent injury of Ian Vowles.

Crown prosecutor Ross Martin outlined the case for the prosecution to the jurors during the first day of the trial, which is expected to run for eight weeks.

He said patients had signed consent forms, but did not consent to their own deaths.

Earlier, seven women and five men were chosen for the 12-member jury, with two men and one woman in reserve.

Justice John Byrne excused a member of the initial reserve jury when the man told him he had already formed an opinion about the case.

“If you don’t have an open mind about such things ... you should not be a juror and should be excused from this jury,” he told them.

More than 70 doctors and 60 nurses have been listed as witnesses.

The Bundaberg courtroom set aside for the telecast of the entire trial trial has been steadily filling up with members of the public this morning.

The first witnesses are expected to be called tomorrow, and hospital administrators will be among the first to give evidence.

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