Friday 18 October 2019

Son threatened on tape to kick and punch mother who has dementia

President of the High Court Mr Justice Peter Kelly
President of the High Court Mr Justice Peter Kelly

Tim Healy

A son was secretly recorded threatening his elderly mother, who has advanced dementia, he would "f**king kick you hard" and "knock you out with this f****ng hand", the High Court heard.

He was also recorded saying she was "brain dead", a "mad bitch" and a "tramp".

President of the High Court Mr Justice Peter Kelly, who has placed the woman under interim court protection, described the content of the exchanges as "nauseating" and the "worst I have ever seen".

No one should speak to an elderly ill person like that and to think her own son would do so was "revolting", he said.

The recording was made by a daughter of the woman arising from concerns for her mother's physical, emotional and financial health and safety.

It recorded exchanges at home in recent weeks between her brother and their mother and father. During those exchanges, which involved "repugnant" language, both parents at stages asked the son to leave the house and also indicated undermining by him of home helps, the judge noted.

The judge was also concerned a surgeon, who late last year performed a hip fusing procedure on the woman, had said he is "baffled" as to how her hip since became dislocated. The surgeon expressed the view that could only have happened as a result of trauma, the judge said.

A public health nurse who recently visited the woman at home had found her in an unkempt and unwashed state, expressing pain and lying in a urine-soaked bed. The nurse said when she sought to change the bed, the woman's son and husband opposed it.

Due to medical and safeguarding concerns, the woman was removed by gardaí and fire brigade officers to hospital in recent weeks.

The judge granted the HSE orders ex parte restraining her son and husband interfering with her care in hospital.

The son told the judge he was "absolutely ashamed" of the content of the recording but did not recall saying much of what was said and it was an "isolated" incident.

He said "underlying issues" built up when caring for someone with dementia. None of his other siblings provide care for her.

He "absolutely" rebuffed concerns by his sister that his giving certain medication to his mother while she was in hospital caused her to suffer a diabetic ketoacidosis episode.

He said, due to his care, she had not suffered such episodes at home and only suffered them in hospital.

His father told the judge his son was offering "absolutely wonderful" care to his mother and she "idolises" him.

The father said he and his wife have been married many decades and he sometimes uses the word "bitch" when she gets "irritated". Due to her dementia, she does not notice she is addressed like that, he said.

Both men sought an opportunity to instruct solicitors and provide sworn statements setting out their response to the concerns raised. Mr Justice Kelly adjourned the matter to facilitate that and, on consent, continued orders for the woman to remain in hospital and restraining her son and husband interfering with her care there.

Irish Independent

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