Blind veteran must wait to hear if he can leave council care home to return home

A blind 97-year-old Second World War veteran who wants to leave a care facility and end his life at home is waiting to hear whether he has won a High Court battle.

Mr Justice Hayden analysed evidence relating to former Royal Navy gunner Douglas Meyers, who lives near Southend, Essex, at a public trial in the Family Division of the High Court on Monday.

He said he would deliver a ruling in the near future.

The judge had left his base in London and oversaw the hearing in a Southend courtroom normally used by magistrates, so that Mr Meyers could attend.

Mr Meyers, who served in the Italian and north African theatres during the 1940s, sat in a wheelchair at the front of the court wearing a row of campaign medals.

He has already lost two rounds of his fight.

Mr Justice Hayden, who has overseen earlier hearings in London, refused to allow him to go home for Christmas.

The judge said he had safety concerns and said the pensioner’s life could be at risk.

He said all evidence and care options had to be analysed before he would consider letting Mr Meyers leave the care facility.

A judge refused to overturn that ruling at a subsequent Court of Appeal hearing in London.

Social services bosses at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council have welfare responsibility for Mr Meyers and lawyers representing the council have asked the judge to make a decision about what is in the veteran’s best interests.

Two lawyers – barrister Parishil Patel QC and solicitor Laura Hobey-Hamsher, who works for law firm Bindmans – are representing the pensioner for free.

Both sets of lawyers agree that Mr Meyers, a widower who turns 98 in March, has the mental capacity to make decisions.

Barrister Katie Scott, who led the council’s legal team, said Mr Meyers had gone into the care facility a few months ago after being found in difficult circumstances at home.

She said the case was “extraordinarily difficult”.

Mr Meyers had rejected offers of care at his home.

She said social services bosses had taken the view that they could not “force” care on him.

Mr Patel told the judge: “His instructions to be are quite clear – he wants to go home.”

Mr Meyers did not address Mr Justice Hayden at Monday’s hearing.

But he has spoken to the judge via a telephone link to the court room at earlier hearings.

M Meyers had told how he wanted to end his life in his home. He added that he could look after himself and would get help from a relative.

He said he was unhappy at the care facility.

“I am a veteran and I am due the respect of a veteran who wants to end his life in his home,” he had said.

“I did six years in the Navy during the war. I think I deserve some respect at my age.”

He told the judge: “I still have my senses. I know what I am doing. I am strong enough to look after myself.”

Mr Justice Hayden described Mr Meyers as an “extraordinary man”.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Yui Mok / PA Wire.