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Woman, 71, jailed for taking elderly dementia patient to Portugal care home

Published 15/10/2016

Mr Justice Newton sentenced the woman at the Court of Protection
Mr Justice Newton sentenced the woman at the Court of Protection

A grandmother has been jailed for six months after taking an elderly man with dementia to a care home in his native Portugal and refusing to bring him back to Britain.

Teresa Kirk, 71, was found guilty of contempt of court after disobeying orders for the 80-year-old man - identified only as MM - to be returned to the UK.

The man, born in Madeira, had lived in Devon for some 50 years and had a "large circle of friends" but did not have the "capacity to make decisions about his residence and care", according to court transcripts.

The legal issues began in 2014 after Mrs Kirk removed MM from his home to hers in Sussex.

Then, last year they went to Portugal and she admitted him to a care home, where he remains.

However, this was in defiance of court orders and social worker recommendations that it was in the man's best interests to live in a care home in south-west England.

Passing sentence at the Court of Protection, Mr Justice Newton, said: "I am left with no alternative but to pass a sentence of imprisonment, however much I have made it perfectly clear that I do not wish to do so."

The judge said Mrs Kirk has "deeply held, sincere beliefs" and is "genuinely concerned" about the welfare of MM but there had been a "long period" where she had "successfully frustrated" court orders.

The hearing was held at the Court of Protection on August 18 but the transcripts were only released in the past week.

Former Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming told the Press Association: "This would be wrong if she was 25 but she is 71 and has been imprisoned for six months.

"What's very important about this case is the public have no idea as to the validity of the reasoning for the court order.

"I have a better understanding - and in my view it stinks.

"I have been worried about secret imprisonments for some time. In this case the judgment was held back from publication until some weeks after she was sent to jail."

The sentence was originally suspended for seven days to "give Mrs Kirk one last chance to comply", according to the transcripts.

It is understood she is being held in Bronzefield prison in Surrey.

Press Association

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