Court of Protection committal application: sentence of 6 months in prison for breach of order

Sunday 30 October 2016

Devon County Council v M [2016] EWCOP 42, Newton J, 18 August 2016 On an application for committal, the 71-year-old respondent, was sentenced to six months imprisonment. The warrant was suspended for 7 days to give her one last chance to comply.

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Devon County Council v M [2016] EWCOP 42, Newton J, 18 August 2016

On an application for committal, the 71-year-old respondent, was sentenced to six months imprisonment. The warrant was suspended for 7 days to give her one last chance to comply.

The case concerned MM, aged 80, originally born in Madeira, but lived in the South West for some 50 years. He suffered from dementia and lacked capacity. Mrs K removed him from his home to hers in Sussex and he was later removed to Portugal. Orders were made on 30 June 2015 that he should be returned to the UK which were not complied with.

The case came before Baker J who on 10 June 2016, after receipt of comprehensive evidence as to MM’s care in Portugal, made a further determination that it was in MM’s best interests to return to the UK, to reside in a residential care home in the South West. He made an order requiring Mrs K to sign by 27 June 2016 the relevant documentation to facilitate MM’s return, with penal notice attached. Mrs K was present in court.

Mrs K did not comply with the order and made it clear that she had no intention of doing so because she thought the order was wrong. She lodged an application for permission to appeal against the decision but did not seek a stay.

On the application for committal before Newton J, the court noted that she was of previous good character, had limited means, her assets having been depleted in pursuit of protecting the interests of MM as she saw them. It was acknowledged that she had deeply held, sincere beliefs as to the best interests of MM and was genuinely concerned about his welfare.

It concluded there was no other way of enforcing the court order than to pass a sentence of imprisonment. If she complied with the order the matter should be restored immediately on an application to purge her contempt.

Full judgment: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCOP/2016/42.html

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