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Chelsea and Nathan DīSouza died in June, 2009 after eating a takeaway meal from the Lotus Garden restaurant in Al Qusais.
Chelsea and Nathan DīSouza died in June, 2009 after eating a takeaway meal from the Lotus Garden restaurant in Al Qusais.

Lawyers present defence in D'Souza children poison case

Defence lawyers argue that it was a narcotic substance, not food poisoning, that killed the D'Souza children.

DUBAI // Defence lawyers in the Lotus Garden food poisoning case claim the municipality gathered samples from the rubbish rather than the kitchen - and a dangerous drug was found in the bodies of the two children who died after eating a meal from the restaurant.

The defence lawyers made their assertions yesterday in the Court of Appeal.

The advocate Hussain al Banai, who represented the Lotus Garden Cafeteria of Al Qusais, told the court that about 120 people who ate the same food on the same day as Chelsea and Nathan D'Souza, ages 8 and 5 respectively, and their family were examined and were healthy.

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He added that the food samples showing harmful bacteria were taken from the rubbish, and that the bacteria found in the samples was a non-fatal dose.

Mohammad al Suwaidi, the lawyer for an Iraqi doctor who was also convicted in the D'Souza deaths, said the drug Lidocaine was found in the victims' bodies.

It can cause suffocation and heart failure, Mr al Suwaidi said, and it was unknown who gave it to the children.

"We suspect that someone gave it to them, and it's the prosecution's duty to investigate that and find out," he said.

According to the US National Library of Medicine, Lidocaine patches are used to relieve pain after a shingles infection.

The library's website says: "Lidocaine comes as a patch to apply to the skin. It is applied only once a day as needed for pain ... Using too many patches or leaving patches on for too long may cause serious side effects."

In February, the Dubai Court of Misdemeanours fined the doctor, the restaurant, its Nepalese chef and his Filipino supervisor Dh10,000 each and ordered them to jointly pay Dh200,000 in blood money to the D'Souza parents.

The court found that the two restaurant staff had breached hygiene standards in the way they stored food, which allowed bacteria to grow and made the children ill. It found the doctor, who worked at NMC Hospital, negligent in her treatment of the children.

The children, their mother and their housemaid ate takeaway food from the restaurant at 7.30pm on June 13, 2009. By 2am, they had all begun feeling sick and started vomiting.

The Appeal Court is to issue its verdict on May 31.

salamir@thenational.ae

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