Sheriff clears Scottish doctor of assaulting ‘challenging’ child

A doctor who was charged with assaulting a “challenging” child has been cleared after a sheriff questioned why the case ended up in court.

A general view of Crosshouse Hospital, near Kilmarnock, where Dr Alexander Waters was working before being suspended on full pay. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Dr Alexander Waters pinched and pushed the six-year-old boy, who was trashing a bedroom with another youngster while the off-duty medic was looking after them.

Dr Waters, 45, a consultant dermatologist who had faced being struck off, insisted he twice used minimum force in self defence and to stop the boy from hurting himself amid a frenzy of destruction.

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Sheriff Thomas Ward gave Dr Waters an absolute discharge and said: “I don’t know why the Crown bring these cases to court without dealing with them in different ways.”

Dr Waters, from Kilmarnock, was suspended on full pay from his job at Crosshouse Hospital by NHS Ayrshire and Arran the day after he left police cells following the incidents in December 2018. A locum medic has been paid to cover his duties since.

He told Kilmarnock Sheriff Court: “I love my job. If I am found guilty of an assault against a child I think it unlikely I would ever practise again as a doctor.”

Dr Waters had been looking after the boy and a girl of similar age at a house in Fenwick, Ayrshire, when he heard a noise and ran upstairs to find the children “trashing” a room, ripping documents and putting items under a running tap. I was attempting to distract them from trashing the room by wearing a horse’s head,” he said. “I was trying to fend off the biting and scratching as best I could.”

He carried the girl out over his shoulder but the boy, whom he described as “boisterous”, would not stop attacking him. Dr Waters said: “I had suffered injuries and I pinched the boy on the buttock in the hope that he would stop. I’d been the victim of a sustained attack for several minutes and thought it was reasonable force. I gave him a second pinch. “

The next day the boy started misbehaving again and hitting Dr Waters, who pushed him away from the debris still lying around but the child fell and hurt himself.

Stuart McMillan, prosecuting, said the incidents were a “gross overreaction” and that Dr Waters could have removed himself from the situation. The doctor refuted this.

Sheriff Ward said he was satisfied Dr Waters’ actions “were unjustified and beyond reasonable chastisement”.

But he added: “I do not know why the Crown bring these charges. I’m not suggesting the assault of a child is not serious. This has no doubt been a difficult time for you but at the same time it seems to me you did act in the way described and you simply lost your temper. People do act in that way but they very seldom end up in court.”

A spokeswoman for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: “We note the decision of the sheriff.”