Dr Jayant Patel, the Indian surgeon convicted of killing three patients and occasioning grievous bodily harm against another, has a very good chance of winning his appeal, says his lawyer.
Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, Queensland-based criminal defence lawyer Kerry Smith-Douglas, of Douglas Law, said her legal team, which includes high-profile silk Ken Fleming QC, is "feeling very confident" about winning the appeal, which is set to be heard in March next year.
Patel, who earned the moniker "Dr Death" after he was investigated for the deaths of 87 patients at Bundaberg Base Hospital where he was employed as head surgeon, was investigated and convicted of three counts of manslaughter and one count of grievous bodily harm in June this year.
Patel's original legal team recently withdrew from the matter, citing financial reasons, and Patel approached Smith-Douglas to take on the case, which she agreed to do pro bono.
"[Patel] has advised me that they're out of funds and they have utilised all their funds with their former lawyers. The well has dried up, basically," said Smith-Douglas.
"I feel that he has been badly done by, and he is the only doctor in the history of Australia that has received such a heavy sentence. The medical fraternity is very concerned with the decision, so we're appealing."
Smith-Douglas is no stranger to high-profile cases, with other clients including convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby and accused triple murderer Max Sica.
"We've got about 11 murders on our plate at present," said Smith-Douglas.
"I like to fight for peoples' rights. There's usually a reason they have committed murder. We use a ... forensic psychologist and he can advise us if there is something that has gone wrong in the mind of the defendant. The courts are always interested to know why people do certain things at certain times."