Rae Wilson

Warning in Patel case highlights court transcript weakness

A BRISBANE judge shone a light on the Queensland Government's decision to outsource court transcript services when he handed over documents to the jury deliberating on the case against former Bundaberg surgeon Jayant Patel.

Judge Terry Martin told the jury in Brisbane District Court that he would hand over transcripts relating to two doctors but they should use their own recollection when parts did not make sense.

He said the court recorders had misrepresented who had asked some of the questions - sometimes mixing up the two Crown prosecutors Peter Davis and David Meredith.

Judge Martin said sometimes they had suggested he had asked questions he had not, as well as mishearing words used during the court proceedings.

He said when the jury saw the words "indistinct", which meant the remote transcribers could not make out the words from the recording, they should use their aural recollection or listen to the recording which might spark their recollection.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie announced in February that Auscript would provide Queensland's court transcribing and recording services after scrapping the in-house system.

Previously, court reporters would sit in the courtroom during trials and type proceedings as they progressed.

They would ask the witness or questioner to repeat something if it was unclear.

The decision to scrap in-court transcribers has repeatedly come under fire, with courts often passing comments on the shortcomings of the now remote transcribing system.

Mr Bleijie had argued outsourcing transcription services would save the state up to $6 million annually.

Dr Patel has pleaded not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to patient Ian Vowles at the Bundaberg Base Hospital in 2004.

The prosecution has alleged Dr Patel gave Vowles no other options before unnecessarily removing his large bowel and rectum to treat a benign polyp.

The jury began deliberating on the criminal medical negligence case on Thursday.

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