Psychiatrist who broke his wife’s ankle is suspended for 12 months

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 17 April 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2854
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

A psychiatrist who was convicted of four assaults on his family, one of which broke his wife’s ankle and left her in a cast for eight weeks, has been suspended for 12 months by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service.

Empee Vithayathil, a specialist in the psychiatry of learning disability, was convicted at Cambridge Crown Court last year of three counts of common assault and one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. He received a four month suspended prison sentence and a four year restraining order and was required to attend an integrated domestic abuse programme.

Vithayathil was arrested after three assaults on three successive days in February 2013. On the first occasion he slapped his wife’s face during an argument over a library book. The same argument erupted the next day, when he slapped her again and bent her fingers back against her hand, grasped both of her hands in a lock style grip, and began hitting her in the chest.

The next day he argued with his sons, became aggressive, and slapped one of them. His court case a month later considered these three assaults but also a more serious one dating from 2007 in which he had broken his wife’s ankle. Vithayathil pleaded guilty to the charges with the proviso that he had not intended to break her ankle.

Sentencing him last year, Judge Jonathan Haworth said the offences “occurred in a household which you clearly ruled with a rod of iron.”

Vithayathil told the tribunal panel that he was in a negative state of mind in 2013 owing to difficulties at home and at work and had become irritable. His counsel argued that he was contrite and there was no risk of repetition, suggesting that suspension was the maximum appropriate penalty.

The MPTS panel chairman, Michael Menlowe, said that Vithayathil had shown only limited insight, telling him, “You are yet to demonstrate that you fully understand what caused you to act violently.” But given his admission of fault, and the low likelihood of repetition, said Menlowe, “the panel has concluded that although serious, these offences are not fundamentally incompatible with continued registration.”


Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2854

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