– A drug-addicted anaesthetist who infected 55 women with hepatitis C has been jailed for at least 10 years.
Supreme Court Justice Terry Forrest said he considered James Peters’ criminally culpable conduct truly reprehensible.
Justice Forrest said Peters had breached the trust every patient places in their treating doctor.
Peters’ victims had suffered significant emotional trauma because of his actions.
Justice Forrest said Peters had been addicted to fentanyl for many years, knew he had hepatitis C and knew the virus could be transmitted to others.
Peters was jailed for a total of 14 years with a non-parole period of 10 years. Outside court, Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Robotham said the sentence handed down to Peters should serve as a warning to all, especially those in the health industry, that any abuse of community trust will be thoroughly investigated and dealt with accordingly.
Slater & Gordon lawyer Julie Clayton, who is representing 50 women infected hepatitis C in a class action against Peters and others, said his jailing had brought victims some welcome degree of closure and some modicum of comfort.
“For others, though, the sentence doesn’t bring any comfort because they’re left with unanswered questions. How could this be allowed to happen in Victoria in the 21st century?” she said.
Peters had pleaded guilty to 55 counts of negligently causing serious injury to the patients by injecting himself with pre-filled syringes of fentanyl – an opioid used in general anaesthesia – in theatre at Croydon Day Surgery. He then administered the remaining drug to the patients as they underwent pregnancy terminations.
The court was told the complete incompetence of Victoria’s Medical Practitioners Board led to Peters infecting the women.
While he was required to undergo regular urine drug screening as part of the board’s monitoring conditions after he confessed to having a drug problem, he was never tested for the drug he was addicted to – fentanyl.
Peters had a history of drug abuse as well as convictions for possessing a drug of dependence and falsifying prescriptions when he infected the women with the potentially deadly blood disease between June 2008 and November 2009.
While he had informed the medical board – which was abolished under subsequent legislation – about his addiction to fentanyl and pethidine in 1996, Peters failed to disclose his hepatitis C status. The Health Department, which the court heard would have been ware he was a doctor being monitored for a fentanyl addiction, was told as soon as he tested positive to the disease, but did not pass on the information.
Despite being suspended while he sought help for his addiction, Peters was allowed to return to work under certain monitoring conditions – Mark Russell

About Jumpin' Jack Cash

Deep connections are the most important aspect of my existence. I don’t care if people don’t know what they want. I love books. I’m cynical of love stories, although I’m romantic. I adore gardens. I like women who challenge me. I love the rain as an excuse to stay inside and dream. I'm furiously impatient. If I ask you a question best to tell me the truth as I'm likely to already know the answer. I'm a carnivore. I continuously underestimate the magic of fresh flowers in my home. I love warm rain in the summer. My mood elevates to epic proportions when the sun shines. Tell me not to do something and I'll do it twice and take photos. Running is my antidepressant. I loathe lies. I rarely forgive a lie. Loyalty and honesty are my most noble virtues, and I value them more than anything in other people. I love to love, and am able to fall in love very quickly, although it's only ever happened once. I understood myself and fixed myself only after destroying myself. My greatest excitement comes from deliberately getting lost in foreign cities. I can be extremely loud and frighteningly silent. I hate insinuations. I love storms. Justice for all. I'm a proud man, but welcome the influence of the feminine soul. I have two sisters. I’m a dreamer. I’m a deep thinker. Don’t deal with guilt trips or drama that well. I'm extremely stubborn and persistent. I'm brilliant at keeping secrets. I love driving. I become absolutely and completely lost while watching a burning fire. When the toast pops from the toaster I’m never ready and shit myself. I play the guitar, but require much improvement. Solitude and warmth of the sun are perfect together. I’ve been married once and now divorced. I’m a music junkie. Chocolate mousse is the shit. I curse too much. I find it difficult to make friends. I spent four years as a firefighter. I’ve run my own company since 1991. Bright lights, big cities. I’ve been an executive producer of a feature film. Some people don’t care, and that’s the biggest let-down of the human race. There are cures and solutions for many evils, but no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings. The sound of the Italian language being spoken is as good as my favourite music. I hate corrupt cops. I relentlessly and passionately pursue anybody and anything that sets my soul on fire. I'm a dog lover, and all my dogs are considered family members. I have an obsession with photography. I have some close friends who are household names, but shall always remain anonymous. I’m crazy but not lazy. Losing a soulmate has hurt me badly. My two young sons are the nucleus of my universe. I love airports. I love freedom. If you are dishonest or disloyal, I can erase you from my life and memory immediately and permanently. I yearn to explore, dream about and discover as many friendships, deep connections and places, one possibly can in a lifetime.
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