Friday 18 October 2019

Romeo (92) faces jail for wedding his Juliet (84)

A 92-year-old man faces jail, a £700 fine and £20,000 in legal fees and all because he eloped with his 84-year-old girlfriend.The star-crossed romance of Charles Barnes and Connie Driscoll has ended in court because her relatives and the conservators of her £500,000 estate claim Barnes violated a court order barring anyone from moving her from the nursing home in northern California where she was living.

Barnes admits he spirited Mrs Driscoll out of the home on the pretext of taking her to lunch from where they flew 500 miles to Los Angeles and were married in a small informal ceremony. He then checked her into another nursing home.

One of the conservators of her estate, Stan Mandell, told a superior court judge in Glendale that Mrs Driscoll, whom doctors say suffers from memory loss and other symptoms of aging, is ``a pawn'' whose estate is the real bone of contention. A bevy of relatives and others were vying for control of her, he said.

Barnes complained he has not been able to be alone with his wife since she was moved to the new premises more than a month ago.

``I just want to be with the woman I love,'' he said. ``This is all hooey. I'm no Casanova. I'm a very private person. I hope people will be able to see how ridiculous this all is.''

He said he had known Mrs Driscoll for 50 years and when her husband died 30 years ago he promised to take care of her.

``After my wife died eight years ago I fell in love with her,'' he said. ``To say that I'm after her money is a joke. I didn't know she had a dime. Anyway, I've got my own money.''

Barnes said he had visited her ``a bunch of times'' in northern California and she told him she wanted to leave the nursing home because she felt like a prisoner.

``I told her we would get married so I arranged to have lunch with her and we headed for the airport,'' he said. Barnes's lawyer, Linda Paquette, said he was unaware of a court order barring any movement of Mrs Driscoll.

His nurse, Alma Clarette, who accompanied him to court, said: ``This is crazy. Anyone can see Charlie and Connie are madly in love. When she hears his voice she just melts. It's just lovely.''

A hearing in the case has been adjourned until next month. (The Daily Telegraph, London)

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