Surgeon's manslaughter conviction over death of patient quashed by appeal judges

A surgeon who served a jail term for the manslaughter of a patient in his care has won an appeal court judgement overturning his conviction.

David Sellu, 69, was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter over the death of retired builder James Hughes, 66, at a private hospital in Harrow.

Mr Hughes, a father of six, died after suffering a ruptured bowel following routine knee surgery at the Clementine Churchill Hospital in Harrow, north west London.

Colo-rectal specialist Dr Sellu was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison in 2013 after a court ruled that he was guilty of serious failures over his care of the patient.

He was in the Court of Appeal today as a panel of three judges announced they had allowed his challenge against the conviction and ruled it should be quashed.

James Hughes became ill after knee surgery at the Clementine Churchill Hospital in Harrow Credit: Google maps

The original case had centred around Dr Sellu's actions after he took over the care of Mr Hughes, who had became unexpectedly ill several days after the planned knee replacement operation in 2010.

It heard that the surgeon suspected a bowel rupture but did not carry out an operation for almost 48 hours.

At a recent hearing the appeal judges heard that the "essence" of the prosecution case was that the doctor, a "respected consultant colorectal surgeon", should have performed an operation to repair a perforated bowel "at a much earlier time".

But a QC argued on behalf of Sellu, of Hillingdon, who served 15 months before being released in February last year, that his conviction for gross negligence manslaughter was "unsafe" on a number of grounds.

Appeal judge Sir Brian Leveson gave the prosecution 24 hours to make an application if they wish to seek a re-trial.