Doctor who slapped autistic boy (5) pays settlement of €7,500 and costs


A DOCTOR slapped a five-year-old child he was treating in his clinic for autism and attention deficit disorder, a court has heard.

Kevin D’Arcy, for Seán Dockerty, said Dr Beyers Oosthuizen had slapped the boy on the arm when he touched the doctor’s computer.

Mr D’Arcy told Circuit Court president Mr Justice Matthew Deery that Seán’s grandmother, Sheila McCarthy, had “grabbed Seán from the doctor’s grasp and left the room.”

He said Mrs McCarthy, Kilmahuddrick Road, Clondalkin, Dublin, had brought Seán to Dr Oosthuizen, who was familiar with his case history, in the Children’s Hospital, Tallaght, in November 2003.

During an examination and discussion dealing with Seán’s medication, Seán became engrossed in the doctor’s computer. Dr Oosthuizen grabbed Seán by the arms, threatened to smack him and then slapped him on the arm with his open hand. Mr D’Arcy said Seán suffered from severe expressive and receptive language difficulties and it was difficult to explain the effect of the incident on him. Afterwards, he had begun to mimic this type of behaviour by striking himself on his head with his hand.

Mr D’Arcy told the Circuit Civil Court that Dr Oosthuizen had offered Seán, who is now aged 11, a €7,500 settlement without any admission of liability and he was recommending that it be approved by the court. The judge approved the settlement together with legal costs to be paid by Dr Oosthuizen and directed that the €7,500 be paid directly for his care to Seán’s grandmother, who seven years ago sought and had been granted guardianship of the boy she has since cared for at her home.

A spokeswoman for the Irish Medical Council confirmed yesterday that Dr Oosthuizen was a South African national who at the time was registered with the council. He had since voluntarily removed his name from the register, which indicated he was not practising in Ireland any more.