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CONTEMPT: Stoke City Council v Maddocks (By His Litigation Friend, the Official Solicitor)

Date:29 APR 2013
Law Reporter

(Court of Protection, His Honour Judge Cardinal, 31 August 2012)

Proceedings took place in the Court of Protection in relation to an elderly man who suffered from Alzheimer's Disease and a degree of vascular dementia, to determine where he should reside. During proceedings three of his children gave evidence and one in particular, Wanda Maddocks, was criticised for her conduct during the course of the proceedings. In particular on the day judgment was due to be given the father was removed from his current care home and brought to court. Assistance was required from court security and the local authority to separate the man from the woman and her sibling and return him to the care home where he was found to be unwell as a result of his unnecessary attendance at court.

Injunctive relief had previously been granted to the local authority to prevent the family from encouraging the man to leave his placement or discussing the possibility of returning home or removing him from the jurisdiction of the court. A further restraining order was made preventing the woman from using or threatening violence against the man, or any employee of the local authority or care home or instructing or encouraging any other person to do so.

The woman was well aware of the orders but proceeded to take her father to a solicitor to discuss his placement. She also produced and distributed a leaflet identifying her father and aspects of his case in clear breach of the Court of Protection Rules 2007. There was further evidence of her discussing the case with her father which caused him distress and of her abusing and threatening a local authority employee.

The judge found that it was clear the woman had no intention of obeying orders unless restrained by a severe measure of the court, given the considerable number of breaches. Despite her attempts to evade service of the contempt proceedings the judge held that he could dispense with the 14-day service requirement as she was well aware that contempt proceedings had been initiated and that she would not attend court whether she was served or not.

In the circumstances there was no alternative other than to commit the woman to prison. Although that course would contain an element of punishment to the man as he continued to appreciate his daughter's visits she seemed to ruin most or all of the visits and telephone calls with her behaviour and caused him considerable grief. An appropriate sentence was for 5 months' imprisonment for each breach to run concurrently.