'Dr. Death' jury asked whether prejudiced by prior knowledge of doctor's publicity

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Melbourne, Mar 22 (ANI): Brisbane Supreme Court Justice John Byrne today asked on the first day of the trial the 12 jury members to consider whether they may have been prejudiced by any exposure to pre-trial publicity about former Indian-origin surgeon Dr. Jayant Patel a.k.a. "Dr. Death".

The three reserve jurors were also asked the same question.

"There has been publicity, in particular in newspapers and on television, about this accused and events that occurred some years ago at the Bundaberg Hospital where Jayant Patel worked," Justice Byrne said.

"It's whether because of your exposure to such publicity, or for that matter any other material, you either have, or might fairly be thought by others ... to have formed an opinion about the accused.

"If you do not have an open mind ... then you should not be a juror and should be excused from this jury," News.com.au quoted Justice Byrne, as saying.

The jury has been sent to the jury room during the mid-morning break to reflect upon whether they should excuse themselves from sitting on the case when court resumes.

Former surgeon Patel, 59, has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of patients Mervyn John Morris, James Edward Phillips and Gerry Kemps, News.com.au reports.

He has also pleaded not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to Ian Rodney Vowles.

The charges relate to his time as director of surgery at the Bundaberg Base Hospital between 2003 and 2005. (ANI)

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