Jayant Patel.
Jayant Patel.

Jury to be polled on knowledge of Patel before trial

JURORS selected for Jayant Patel's grevious bodily harm trial will be quizzed about their knowledge of the highly-publicised doctor.

It will make it only the second time in Queensland history a jury has been polled - the first being during Patel's manslaughter trial in February.

Patel is charged with causing grevious bodily harm to Ian Rodney Vowels during an operation at Bundaberg Base Hospital in 2004.

In a pre-trial hearing in the Brisbane District Court on Thursday, Patel's barrister Kenneth  Fleming argued while publicity had eased, it could regenerate.

"While the publicity has fallen off a little bit nevertheless it regenerates whenever there is some activity in regards to Dr Patel..." he said.

Mr Fleming said a Google search of "Jayant Patel" returned 1.3 million hits while a search of "Dr Death" returned millions of strikes.

"We live unfortunately in this age of technology where material once published is not used for purposes around the home but electronic material lasts forever," he said.

"The situation is not that different from when Justice Fryberg allowed the polling of the first jury.

"The only difference now there has been some lesser day to day reporting."

Supreme Court Justice George Fryberg ordered the jury in Patel's manslaughter trial be polled on their knowledge and any potential bias.

Patel was later found not guilty of Mervyn Morris' manslaughter at Bundaberg Base Hospital in 2003.

Mr Fleming said the defence was concerned whether or not past reporting on Patel "may or may not affect a jury and their ability to present a fair and reasonable verdict".

Crown Prosecutor Peter Davis did not oppose the application to poll the jury.

He said the polling in the last trial was quite extensive.

He said it brought home to the jury being unbiased and not having regard to the media.

Judge Terence Martin said he was satisfied that prejudicial pre-trial publicity amounted to reason to inquire the jury.

The trial will begin in the Brisbane District Court on September 23.

It is expected to last for three weeks.



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