Saturday 19 October 2019

Woman who was living in 'squalor' had €164,000 from claim

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Tim Healy

An elderly woman lived in "abject squalor" in her home for almost two years without light, heat and adequate nutrition when €164,000 was lodged in court for her, the High Court has heard.

By order of the president of the High Court, and in the context of an inquiry as to whether the woman should be made a ward of court, she was removed from her home recently and taken to a hospital for physical and psychiatric assessment.

New clothes had to be bought for her as "an emergency measure", the court heard. Her home was described as a health hazard due to its general disrepair and hygiene. A raw chicken, the court heard, had been in the hallway for some time.

The woman has no family and her cat was found in very poor condition. A vet is trying to keep the animal alive because of the woman's affection for it.

At a hearing early last month, Mr Justice Peter Kelly strongly criticised solicitors who acted for her concerning a personal injury claim which settled in July 2017 for €164,000 over their failure to progress a wardship petition despite their undertaking to do so.

When the matter returned before the judge yesterday, the woman was in court in a wheelchair. She told the judge she was being well looked after in hospital and was prepared to stay short term in a psychiatric unit, as proposed by the HSE. She also said she hoped to get her house done up.

She said she had been "starving" and living on crackers and water, and now weighed less than seven stone. The judge told her he had arranged for her removal to hospital after seeing photos of "abject squalor" in her home.

The "tragedy" was that, all this time, there was a sum of €164,000 for her in court and he would be taking further steps in due course concerning the solicitors, he said.

Arising from the woman's objection to being made a ward of court, the judge adjourned a decision on whether to take her into wardship pending further reports.

Irish Independent

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