NEWCASTLE doctor Jeremy Coleman has been found not guilty of 50 counts of sexual and indecent assault after the longest criminal trial in Newcastle's history.
But after deliberating for more than nine weeks, the jury were deadlocked on the remaining 16 counts.
The year-long trial came to a sudden halt on Monday when three members of the jury gave evidence that they were unlikely to reach unanimous or majority verdicts on the remaining counts.
Judge Penny Hock discharged the jury, bringing to an end the marathon trial.
Dr Coleman, 64, a general physician, allergy and immunology specialist who has seen more than 40,000 patients and conducted more than 150,000 consultations during his career, had pleaded not guilty to 66 counts of sexual and indecent assault against 46 female patients between 1989 and 2013.
The 12-month trial, which began life as an estimated six-month trial, turned on three words: proper medical purpose.
The well-known doctor's defence, led by barrister Pauline David, had said repeatedly that Dr Coleman's only purpose for examining or touching any of his patients was a medical one.
"He is a highly trained and highly capable medical doctor," Ms David said.
"It was his job to examine them, it was his job to touch them."
If the examination took place there was a medical reason for it, the defence said. But for some allegations Dr Coleman denied the examinations took place or disagreed the consultations occurred the way the women claimed.
It appears that the jury agreed.
And on Monday, after sitting through about nine months of evidence, including testimony from dozens of women who said they went to Dr Coleman for help and were sexually or indecently assaulted, much of which was before a closed court, and a marathon of complex medical evidence from experts, and then about a month of closing submissions, a period longer than the average jury trial, and, finally, after deliberating for 36 days, the jury were discharged.
Earlier, on August 3, they had found Dr Coleman not guilty of 36 counts.
Then they returned again on August 23 and acquitted him of 10 more counts.
On August 29, they came back one last time and found him not guilty of two more counts.
Two other charges were dismissed at the close of he prosecution’s case.
Ultimately, they found Dr Coleman not guilty of 50 counts and were deadlocked on 16.
More to come.
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