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`Dr. Death’ to face separate trials on charges

Brisbane (Australia), May 25 (ANI): Former Bundaberg Hospital surgeon Jayant Patel will face separate trials on fraud and manslaughter charges.

In a pre-trial review today the Crown agreed the eight fraud charges Dr Patel is facing should be heard at a separate trial from the three manslaughter and two grievous bodily harm charges he also faces.

However, a Supreme Court judge will have to decide whether the five non-fraud charges should also be heard in individual trials.

According to the Daily Telegraph, prosecutor Ross Martin told today’s hearing the Crown would not oppose a severing of fraud and other charges.

He said, however, the Crown believed the manslaughter and grievous bodily harm charges should remain “joined” for a trial.

Martin said defence lawyers had yet to indicate whether they would seek judge only trials for all or some of the charges.

He said there could be problems with the application to separate the manslaughter and grievous bodily harm charges, if the defence sought a judge only trial.

However, Michael Byrne QC said under the relevant section of law it would be irrelevant if the trials were judge only or jury.

He did not say if the defence had decided on whether to apply for judge only trials but he did indicate any application, if made, would be on the grounds of prejudice and unfairness.

Justice John Byrne said the matters had a public interest and it was important to get them before a court as soon as possible.

Dr Patel was committed to stand trial on the 13 counts in April. Patel, 59, who worked at the hospital between 2003 and 2005, faces charges of the manslaughter of James Phillips, Mervyn Morris and Gerardus Kemps. (ANI)

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