Jailed Sheffield doctor loses appeal over sentence

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An out-of-hours Sheffield agency doctor who was jailed for manslaughter after failing to realise his patient had a life-threatening diabetic condition has lost an appeal against his prison sentence.

Andrew Fellows, aged 42, was found dead in bed at his parents’ house in Handsworth, hours after he was visited by 64-year-old Bala Subrahmanyam Kovvali.

The doctor, who left the country afterwards and was extradited from the USA, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was jailed for two-and-a-half years at Sheffield Crown Court in February.

He appealed against his sentence but judges in London threw out his case, saying he could have saved Mr Fellows’ life by performing simple tests and sending him to hospital.

The Court of Appeal heard Mr Fellows’ mum called for a doctor because her son was drinking huge amounts of water, mumbling, muddled and breathing erratically.

Kovvali visited him at home and diagnosed depression. The following morning Mr Fellows was found dead.

Reports compiled afterwards described the doctor’s actions as ‘appalling’ and a ‘gross breach of duty’.

His lawyers argued the two-and-a-half year sentence was too long, but, rejecting the appeal, Mr Justice Griffith Williams said: “As a very experienced medical practitioner of many years standing, in our judgment he would have realised his treatment of this patient fell so far below the accepted standards that it can properly be categorised as grossly negligent.

“A blood sugar test was the obvious step and would have taken minutes. The risk of death was obviously foreseeable if no steps were taken.”