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Surgeon guilty of killing patient
A senior doctor at a private hospital has been convicted of killing a patient.
Surgeon David Sellu, 66, was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter over the death of father of six James Hughes, following a trial at the Old Bailey.
Mr Hughes, 66, died at the Clementine Churchill Hospital in Harrow, north-west London, on February 14, 2010.
Sellu was found not guilty of perjury after he was accused of lying to the victim's inquest under oath.
Mr Hughes, a retired builder, had a planned left knee replacement on February 5.
The operation went well but while recovering from surgery he developed abdominal pain and was transferred to the care of Sellu, who has been a doctor for four decades.
Sellu suspected that there had been a rupture in Mr Hughes's bowel - a potentially life-threatening condition that requires surgery - but the surgeon ignored the urgency that the case demanded.
Mr Hughes's wife Ann described the suffering experienced by the family.
In a victim impact statement read out in court by prosecutor Bobbie Cheema QC, she said: "For three years we have struggled to discover and then accept the truth of what happened to Jim.
"The world does not stand still but for us we have been subjected to a tortuous purgatory that can only be brought to an end by truth and justice.
"Our trust in normal processes, authorities and structures of society was shattered by the inexplicable, callous and deceitful actions of the medical profession entrusted with the most basic responsibility to protect human life."
Elizabeth Joslin, a specialist lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "James Joseph Hughes was in hospital for knee surgery when he, by chance, suffered a perforated bowel.
"David Sellu's lack of care fell far below the expected standard, with terrible consequences.
"Prosecution of doctors for gross negligence manslaughter is rare and the threshold for criminal prosecution is high, but this doctor's actions were not mistakes or errors of judgment, but negligence so serious that he has now been convicted of a criminal offence.
"Our thoughts are with the family of Mr Hughes."
After the bowel rupture was diagnosed, Sellu ordered a CT scan for the next day instead of immediately performing surgery.
The scan confirmed the medic's suspicions but he failed to carry out the surgery immediately and instead carried on with his own clinic.
After being in pain for around 40 hours, Mr Hughes was sent to the operating theatre at 9pm on February 12.
By this point the situation had deteriorated so badly that intensive care specialists had to work to stabilise Mr Hughes before Sellu could operate on his bowel.
Four hours later, at 1am, he was eventually able to operate.
"He did what he could at that late stage to repair the damage," Ms Cheema told jurors during the trial.
After surgery Mr Hughes was transferred to the intensive care unit but died there the following day.
"That death was avoidable," Ms Cheema said.
"Had (Sellu) operated the night before or even earlier on February 12, Mr Hughes would have had a very good chance of survival.
"Mr Sellu's care of this patient on this occasion fell very far below an acceptable standard.
"There was a series of missed opportunities and serious errors in judgment in the care of this patient and they combined to cause Mr Hughes's death.
"The standard of care was exceptionally bad."