Abortion doc who deliberately infected patients with hepatitis C loses appeal

James Latham Peters

A former doctor who infected 55 of his female patients with hepatitis C while working at an abortion clinic has lost his bid to appeal against his 14 year jail sentence.

Lawyers for James Latham Peters argued the term was disproportionate to his crimes.

The 63-year-old former anaesthetist was given a non-parole period of 10 years after pleading guilty to 55 counts of negligently causing serious injury.

On Friday Victorian Court of Appeal president Justice Chris Maxwell said the sentence was unimpeachable. “In my opinion it is not reasonably arguable that the sentence was disproportionate,” he said.

Peters infected 55 women with hepatitis C in 2008 and 2009 when he was working at a Croydon abortion clinic while addicted Fentanyl.

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The Victorian Court of Appeal on Friday rejected James Latham Peters’ application to appeal his 14-year prison term and 10-year non-parole period for infecting 55 women with the disease.

Court of Appeal president Justice Chris Maxwell said the sentence was unimpeachable.

Slater and Gordon principal lawyer Julie Clayton, who is representing some of the victims in a civil lawsuit, said they were relieved Peters’ sentence would stand.
“Every time the matter comes before the courts it reopens the trauma that these women have already experienced,” Ms Clayton told AAP.

“The rejection today by the Court of Appeal hopefully means that the women can put the criminal proceedings behind them.”

Peters infected the women in 2008 and 2009, when he was working as an anaesthetist at a Croydon abortion clinic while addicted to the drug he was administering.

In a bid to hide his drug use from colleagues, he would inject himself with the opiate Fentanyl before using the same needle to administer the rest of the dosage to the patient.
Justice Maxwell said Peters’ level of moral culpability was very high, and his crimes had involved grave breaches of trust.

“On each of the 55 occasions there was a breach of the duty of care,” he said.
Peters’ victims are suing him, the director of the abortion clinic and the Victorian Medical Board.
The women now face an increased risk of suffering cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

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