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Dr. Brian Nadler acquitted of murder and negligence charges

Dr. Brian Nadler acquitted of murder and negligence charges
Dr. Brian Nadler acquitted of murder and negligence charges

Nadler’s lawyer successfully argued that the prosecution’s expert was not sufficiently qualified to comment on questions “that were central to this case, namely the cause of death.”

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Dr. Brian Nadler’s defense team spoke of a “day of satisfaction” when the former Hawkesbury doctor was acquitted on Tuesday of four counts of premeditated murder and four counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Nadler’s high-profile murder trial was scheduled to begin Tuesday, but he was acquitted of all charges after prosecutors declined to call evidence or subpoena witnesses to testify for the prosecution.

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Nadler answered “not guilty” as each of the eight charges was entered into the court record.

After the prosecution decided not to present evidence, Judge Kevin Phillips acquitted the defendant on all counts.

“You are innocent of this charge,” the judge told Nadler. “You can go.”

Nadler was charged with four counts of premeditated murder and criminal negligence. The cause of deaths were Albert Poidinger (89), Claire Brière (80), Lorraine Lalande (79) and Judith Lungulescu (93). All were elderly patients at the Hawkesbury & District General Hospital, where Nadler was working as a consultant in internal medicine at the time.

During a pretrial hearing last week, Phillips ruled that a number of expert evidence should be excluded from the prosecution’s case, leaving prosecutors with no reasonable prospect of convicting Nadler, prosecutor Robin Flumerfelt said in court Tuesday.

According to Nadler’s defense attorneys, the judge disqualified the Crown’s prospective witness as an expert and declared the evidence inadmissible.

After Tuesday’s hearing, defense attorney Brian Greenspan said the judge “correctly found” that the expert was not qualified to comment on the issue of the cause of death of the four elderly patients, which is “at the heart of this case.”

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Flumerfelt said prosecutors reviewed their case after the judge’s decision and concluded that “the decisions of this court, including the exclusion of the prosecution’s expert evidence, made it impossible to proceed with the prosecution at this time,” he told the court. “As a practical matter, these decisions have decided the case against the prosecution.”

Flumerfelt requested that Nadler be held for trial, meaning that the eight charges will be read aloud and Nadler will plead not guilty to preserve the prosecution’s right to appeal.

“In response, we will not present any evidence and will demand an acquittal,” Flumerfelt said.

The prosecution cannot appeal if the charges are withdrawn or stayed, but it can appeal in the event of an acquittal. Flumerfelt indicated to the judge that an appeal may already be in the pipeline.

Phillips said Nadler has been “presumed innocent since the trial began, and that innocence has not been refuted in any way.”

The Hawkesbury OPP were first called to the hospital where Nadler worked on March 25, 2021, to investigate Poidinger’s death. Nadler was charged within 24 hours in Poidinger’s death, and police said at the time the investigation pointed to several suspicious deaths at the hospital. Three more murder charges were laid in 2022. Police said Brière, Lalande and Lungulescu died “on or about” the same date Poidinger died in 2021.

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After Nadler’s acquittal, his legal team appeared briefly outside the courthouse in Ottawa. Nadler himself did not comment.

Nadler’s lawyer Brian Greenspan said the acquittal was “a day of satisfaction” for Nadler and an unprecedented outcome in his 50 years as a lawyer.

Greenspan successfully argued that the prosecution’s prospective expert witness was not sufficiently qualified to comment on questions “that were central to this case, namely the cause of death,” he told reporters.

The Crown’s expert witness was a hematologist who diagnoses, manages and treats blood diseases.

“Not a pathologist, not a toxicologist, but a hematologist,” Greenspan said.

Greenspan said autopsies of the four dead showed they either died of Covid-19 or had underlying medical conditions before contracting the virus during an outbreak of the Delta variant at Hawkesbury Hospital, calling these “critical facts that have been subject to a publication ban until today.”

The prosecution has not presented any forensic, pathological evidence to the contrary, he added.

Greenspan said the defense was prepared to call its own expert witness to refute the prosecution’s expert’s findings.

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“Had the trial continued, the jury would also have heard the opinion of a renowned Canadian clinical toxicologist who, after a detailed review of each of the four cases, concluded that the drugs administered by Nadler did not cause or significantly contribute to any of the four deaths.”

This newspaper asked prosecutors whether they intend to appeal Nadler’s acquittal and received no immediate response.

Greenspan said Nadler’s legal team would “respond appropriately to an appeal.”

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