'Butcher of Bega' jailed for extra 18 months

Former gynaecologist Graeme Reeves will serve at least an extra 18 months in jail for cutting off the genitalia of one of his patients.

But he has also been acquitted of one charge of aggravated indecent assault.

In the Court of Criminal Appeal on Thursday Chief Justice Tom Bathurst announced the extra jail time on a charge of maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm on Carolyn DeWaegeneire, a patient who needed surgery in 2002.

When Ms DeWaegeneire had the operation at Pambula hospital on the NSW south coast on a pre-cancerous growth, Reeves cut off her external genitalia.

Reeves was sentenced on July 1, 2011 to a maximum jail term of three and a half years and a minimum of two years.

He was due for parole in May this year, but his earliest date of parole is now November 30, 2014.

Reeves was separately sentenced for the two assaults committed while he was a gynaecologist in Bega, and for deceiving the local area health service into thinking he was still a licensed obstetrician.

He was on Thursday acquitted on one of those charges, and had at least two months of jail time added to another.

Less than two weeks after his original sentence NSW Attorney General Greg Smith announced the decision to appeal against the sentence, on the grounds it was "manifestly inadequate".

Reeves also appealed his conviction.

In a hearing last year, Reeves's barrister, Peter Hamill, SC, had argued prosecution under the criminal law may not be the most appropriate way of dealing with a "bad doctor".

"A doctor might be very bad and struck off or subject to a civil suit but to convict the doctor of a crime when he believes what he is doing is for the benefit of the patient - it's a step too far," Mr Hamill said.

But the Crown Prosecutor, Phillip Ingram, SC said the evidence was that Ms DeWaegeneire did not consent to such an "invasion" of her body and the case did engage the criminal law.

Mr Hamill said sentencing Reeves was difficult as most offenders found guilty of such an offence are "violent criminals".

www.smh.com.au

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