DUBAI // A cook, his supervisor, a restaurant and a hospital doctor were each fined Dh10,000 each yesterday over the deaths of two children from food poisoning.
T R, 26, from Nepal, and his Filipino supervisor E S, 34, the Lotus Garden Chinese restaurant where they worked, and E T, 47, an Iraqi doctor at New Medical Centre Specialty Hospital (NMC), were also ordered to collectively pay Dh200,000 in diyaa, or blood money.
Nathan D’Souza, five, and his sister Chelsea, eight, died after eating a takeaway meal from the restaurant in Al Qusais in June 2009.
The Dubai Court of Misdemeanours found that the two restaurant staff had breached hygiene standards in the way they stored food, which allowed bacteria to grow and eventually made the children ill. It also found that the doctor was negligent in her treatment of them.
The children’s father said yesterday that the verdict meant nothing to him or his wife. “Nothing can bring our children back,” Patrick D’Souza said. “We are not really bothered about what happens any more. We would have filed a lawsuit if we really needed the money.
“We are really angry and upset, but it is not up to us to punish anyone. We leave it to the Government and God to take the necessary action.”
He said his family’s wounds were still open and no punishment would take away the pain.
“It seems like it all happened just yesterday,” he said. “We are still trying hard to move on. Every day, every minute, we are living the loss of our children. It is not a normal life we are leading.”
The couple has since had another child, whom Mr D’Souza described as a blessing.
The tragedy began on June 12, 2009, when the family ordered a takeaway meal from the restaurant. Mrs D’Souza, her two children and their housemaid became ill that evening and visited the NMC.
They were discharged after treatment, and Mrs D’Souza and the housemaid recovered.
Nathan and Chelsea’s condition deteriorated, however, and they were taken back to the NMC. Nathan was dead on arrival and Chelsea died the next day at Dubai Hospital.
The Chinese restaurant, which denied any wrongdoing, was initially closed, but Dubai Municipality allowed it to reopen three months later.
The restaurant declined to comment on yesterday’s verdict. The head of the NMC was not available for comment.
The lawyer Mohammad al Suwaidi, who represented the doctor, said he planned to appeal against the verdict on the basis of evidence from the forensics report.
The relative leniency of the sentence was irrelevant, he said. “Being fined means there is a conviction against my client, while we seek acquittal.”