Jayant Patel free to return to family in the USA
FORMER Bundaberg surgeon Jayant Patel escaped further time behind bars in what the sentencing judge labelled the end of "a lengthy, tragic chapter in the history of Queensland".
Judge Terry Martin said the 63-year-old he had expressed no genuine remorse for deceiving Queenslanders as he sentenced him to a two-year suspended jail term.
"You have been heavily punished and I dare say will continue to suffer the consequences of your stay in Queensland," Judge Martin told the disgraced surgeon, who has already served 919 days behind bars.
"There seems little doubt your career is forever ruined.
"Of course you are the author of all the misfortune that has resulted from your totally undeserved employment in Queensland".
Patel pleaded guilty in Brisbane District Court to four counts of fraud for twice falsely filling out medical registration and employment forms to work as head surgeon at Bundaberg Base Hospital from 2003 to 2005.
Patel had been restricted from performing certain surgeries after medical negligence allegations were investigated in Oregon in the US.
He was "effectively struck off" the medical roster in New York after they were informed of the Oregon matters.
Judge Martin said Patel had "deceitfully crafted" his CV and "bastardised" his registration documents to hide the restrictions.
He said the restrictions on Patel's licence in the US showed "serious deficiency in your competence as a surgeon".
"Yet you deliberately sought the position as head surgeon at Bundaberg and calculatedly deceived your way into that position," he said.
"Your unlawful conduct plainly put the health and welfare of the patients at risk."
The sentence leaves Patel free to return to the US where his wife and daughter, both doctors, and granddaughter live.
"This has been a long and very difficult journey," Patel said outside court.
"I'm pleased that it's over and I'll be going back to my life and my work."
The Medical Board of Australia and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency have already re-activated disciplinary action against Patel to prevent him from seeking registration as a medical practitioner ever again "to ensure the ongoing protection of the public".
Patel was convicted in 2010 of all three manslaughter charges and causing grievous bodily harm but the High Court quashed the convictions and ordered separate re-trials.
The Director of Public Prosecutions last week sensationally dropped all remaining charges against Patel after considering public interest issues in continuing to pursue him criminally.
These included the deaths of patients Gerardus Kemps, 77, and James Phillips, 46.
The decision came after the DPP failed to secure convictions against Patel for the manslaughter of patient Mervyn John Morris, 75, and the grievous bodily harm of Ian Rodney Vowles, 66.
Judge Martin said Patel should not view the jury outcomes as an "endorsement of your competence".
"It means no such thing," he said.
"It means no more than that the juries were not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that your conduct amounted to criminal negligence.
"Your competence otherwise … was not the subject of jury consideration."