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Thursday, 20 December, 2001, 17:37 GMT
Jury told to ignore sympathy
Kelly Denton
Kelly Denton died at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in 1998
A jury trying a consultant surgeon for the manslaughter of a Cornish teenager has been told by a judge that sympathy and prejudice must not come into their considerations.

Mr Justice Toulson was summing up in the trial of Kenneth Woodburn, who has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of 16-year-old Kelly Dent in September 1998.

He said the jury "should not unconsciously be swayed by sympathies in either direction, either for Kelly and her family, or sympathy for Woodburn in his position."

Leukaemia sufferer Kelly Dent, of Illogan, near Redruth, died during an operation at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Treliske, when a tube being put into her chest punctured her heart.

Mr Kenneth Woodburn
Kenneth Woodburn denies manslaughter
At Exeter Crown Court, the prosecution maintained that during the operation Woodburn became angry.

It said in his anger, he behaved aggressively towards Kelly in the way he performed the operation, which caused punctures in, and close to, her heart.

This led to internal bleeding from which she died.

The prosecution said it involved a breach of his duty to his patient.

Mr Woodburn said of the death: "It was the worst day of my life".

He admitted he used bad language during the operation but denied he took out his irritation or frustration out on her or cut corners.

The surgeon told the court: "I was totally focused on doing what was best for Kelly."

The operation was one which carried recognised but small risks.

Injury dispute

The judge said the defence said it was not entirely certain of the way Kelly's injuries were caused, or in what sequence, so that it would never be known with 100% certainty how she died.

The judge said the defence also asserted that, even if there was at some stage negligence on the part of Woodburn, it did not contribute to her death.

The prosecution said three injuries were significant causes of Kelly's death - punctures to the atrium and aorta in the heart, and the diaphragm under the heart.

The judge said there was no dispute the injuries to atrium and aorta led to her death and that they were caused by something done by Woodburn.

But there was a dispute whether Woodburn caused the injury to the diaphragm and whether it contributed to Kelly's death.

The diaphragm injury caused blood to escape from the sac around the heart into the abdominal cavity.

The trial continues.

See also:

17 Dec 01 | England
Accused surgeon: 'My worst day'
13 Dec 01 | England
Surgeon's sorrow at death of girl
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