Today the High Court unanimously dismissed the substantive appeal against conviction (but upheld a conceded appeal against sentence) from a decision of the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal, brought by Dr Reeves. Reeves was convicted following a trial by jury in the District Court of New South Wales of malicious infliction of grievous bodily harm with intent to inflict harm of that kind.
The Court found that the Court of Criminal Appeal identified and applied the correct test for consent to surgery, which requires that the patient be informed in broad terms of the nature of the procedure. The trial judge’s use of the phrase “informed consent” and the reference to possible major consequences and alternative treatments had not distracted the jury from the one issue on consent, which was whether the prosecution had excluded beyond reasonable doubt that a patient CDW had been informed that the surgery involved the removal of her vulva, including her labia and clitoris.
The High Court agreed with the Court of Criminal Appeal that the misdirection had not occasioned a substantial miscarriage of justice.