No big crowds at Patel's trial

BOTH rooms broadcasting Bundaberg video-link to the trial of former Bundaberg surgeon Jayant Patel will continue to operate despite little interest so far in watching the trial from Bundaberg region residents.

Yesterday morning, about 12 residents arrived with hours to spare to ensure their seat in one of the rooms, which can hold 67 people.

Bundaberg-Burnett Patient Support Group secretary Diane Styles drove from Childers to be at the courthouse by the time it opened at 8.30am, despite proceedings not starting for another two hours.

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“We have about nine or 10 people coming this morning and we are hoping to have at least three or four people from our group in the room at any one time,” she said.

Mrs Styles was not alone in her early arrival.

Berajondo grazier George Pauza drove 160km to see the start of the trial.

“I feel sorry for a lot of those people who want to come but are aged or in a wheelchair, because the parking is not good and it is a long walk to the courtroom,” he said.

About 12 members of the support group waited outside, talking among themselves, while they waited for the proceedings to start.

After lunch, numbers watching from the Bundaberg courtroom dwindled, with only eight people in the viewing area plus journalists from local media outlets.

Those in the court room watched the proceedings on a big screen projection, occasionally whispering to a neighbour, but for the most part remaining silent.

The screen was split into four different views.

One showed Justice John Byrne, one showed the witness stand, one the prosecution and the last angle displayed the defence.

Patel was not visible.

Next to the screen was a wide screen TV on which documents were shown, as the legal teams referred to them in their opening statements.

One gentleman was so engrossed with the proceedings he spent a large portion of the trial sitting forward in his chair, resting his elbows on his knees.

Another woman took notes as the trial progressed.

Member for Burnett Rob Messenger had obtained special leave from party room meetings to attend the beginning of the trial.

“I thought it was important to be here with the families, as obviously this is a very significant day,” Mr Messenger said.

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