Prosecuting Patel racks up $3.3m in costs
QUEENSLAND taxpayers have forked out $3.3 million to prosecute disgraced Bundaberg doctor Jayant Patel, including almost $85,000 on his living costs.
And the bill to the public purse is set to rise with the Director of Public Prosecutions pushing ahead with Patel's outstanding charges despite losing Patel's manslaughter trial in February.
Figures obtained through Right to Information show Patel has clocked up $40,875 in living costs - including $26,500 on accommodation - this year alone.
That is up from the $37,200 Patel spent on living costs in 2010.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said the government had an obligation under Commonwealth law to accommodate Patel, who was extradited from the United States to face criminal changes.
"Under section 146 of the Commonwealth Migration Act 1958, we are required to ensure satisfactory arrangements have been made for keeping a person in Australia for the purposes of criminal justice administration," he said.
Patel was jailed in 2010 after a jury convicted him of unlawfully killing three patients and causing grievous bodily harm to another while a surgeon at Bundaberg Base Hospital.
The High Court quashed his conviction last year and Patel was released.
The 63-year-old faced a re-trial in February for the manslaughter of Mervyn Morris in 2004. He was found not guilty and will face trial next month for causing grievous bodily harm to another patient.
The Patel saga has spanned more than a decade and included government inquiries, his extradition - not included in the prosecution cost - and a highly publicised trial.
RTI figures show it has cost $83,000 this year to brief barristers to act on the DPP's behalf throughout the Patel case, including high-profile Queens Counsel Peter Davis.
Internal Justice Department emails about APN's RTI request reveal the DPP refused to release the prosecution salaries because it could look like the issue of costs had weight on the decision to proceed on Patel's outstanding charges.
The cost of prosecuting the doctor, who had restrictions placed on him as a surgeon in American before Queensland Health approved his employment, has also blown out $241,302 over budget.
Bundaberg patient advocate Beryl Crosby conceded the costs were high but said a price could not be placed on justice.
"If you put a price on justice, cases like these would never go to trial," she said.
"For us, the cost has been so much because there have been so many appeals and things so it's also about the workings of the justice system."
THE jurors entrusted with the task of trying Jayant Patel have racked up almost $200,000 in expenses during his two trials.
According to Right to Information documents, the cost of feeding, accommodating and supporting jurors during the three-week trial in 2010 was $130,612.
The 12-member panel were given a $107 a day empanelment rate, which increased to $142.50 when the trial went past the 20-day mark.
While the jury was locked up for seven days until a verdict was reached, each member was afforded $203 a night for accommodation, $20 a day for breakfast and $48 for dinner.
The cost of sequestering the jury and two court bailiffs up for seven days was $41,920.
The jury involved in Patel's Supreme Court manslaughter trial in 2013 cost the state $64,936.
- 2012/2013 DPP costs - $147, 567
- Patel's living costs to date - $84,442
- Patel's phone costs 2013 - $1144
- Patel's dental/medical costs 2013 - $1094.
- DPP counsel costs in 2013 - $83,000.
- Expert witness cost 2013 - $19,872.
- Total prosecution costs to date - $3.31 million.