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Psychiatrist accused over death

Doctor faces five years' jail after freeing schizophrenic who then killed 83-year-old with axe

A PSYCHIATRIST is in court at Marseille today accused of being responsible for the death of an 83-year-old man after releasing a schizophrenic patient from a secure hospital.

The doctor, Danièle Canarelli, faces up to five years in prison and a €75,000 fine if found guilty of manslaughter.

She had allowed her long-term patient, Joël Gaillard, to leave the Edouard-Toulouse hospital in Marseille on interim release - although his family said he risked further violence if allowed to return home. He had been confined to hospital since 2001 after a succession of acts of violence including an attempted murder.

Canarelli had judged him stable, but when she told him that he had to return to hospital he fled. Days later, in March 2004, he attacked 83-year-old Germain Trabuc in Gap (Hautes-Alpes) with an axe, hilling him.

Gaillard claimed that Mr Trabuc had stolen his grandmother's inheritance.

The juge d'instruction who sent Canarelli's case to the Tribunal Correctionnel de Marseille said other psychiatrists disagreed with her opinion and said she had never correctly diagnosed Gaillard's schizophrenia or she would never have allowed him to leave hospital.

Canarelli's defence lawyer said she had treated Gaillard with the drugs that were available at the time and had given the best care that was possible.

Mr Trabuc's family, however, said that he should never have been allowed out, with son Michel Trabuc saying the hosptial and the psychiatrist had "preferred that he do his evil elsewhere".

The Académie National de Médecine said there was no such thing as "zero risk" and that making a diagnosis was not "a science of prediction".

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