Man abused mentally-ill partner and ‘extended his control’ to care professionals – judge

A man who abused and exploited his mentally-ill partner “extended his control” to professionals involved in her care, a judge has said.

Mr Justice Hayden said the man had allowed the woman, now 60, to eat only “salad and one potato” a day, made her say prayers at “quite extraordinary length”, and barred her from wearing underwear.

He said the man, who lived in the woman’s home for about four and a half years, had also written the “script” as to what she should tell doctors and carers.

The judge has raised concern after analysing the woman’s case at a hearing in the Court of Protection, where issues relating to people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves are heard.

He had been asked to make decisions relating to her future care.

Mr Justice Hayden said, in a ruling on the case published online, that the man’s relationship with the woman was a “paradigm of domestic abuse” and wondered how it had been allowed to continue as long as it did.

He has not identified anyone involved in the case, including the council with welfare responsibility for the woman, in his ruling.

The judge, who also hears cases in the Family Division of the High Court and is based at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, said the woman had left home, gone into hospital, and was now living at a specialist unit in Kent.

He said the woman had been “emaciated” when she left home but was now “physically very much restored”.

“It is important to say that even the most cursory analysis of the extensive evidence available points clearly to this relationship as being abusive, exploitative, coercive,” said Mr Justice Hayden.

“As I have read the papers and heard the evidence, I have wondered how this has been permitted to continue for as long as it has.”

The judge added; “As the years have gone by it is apparent that (he) has extended his control to the professionals involved in (her) care.

“He writes the ‘script’ as to what she should tell the doctors and the carers.”

He said the case highlighted the “insidious nature” of controlling and coercive behaviour and the “extreme vulnerability” of people with mental health difficulties.

“Though the conduct I have described … appears obvious and extreme, individual instances of behaviour, observed in isolation, do not always signal to the professionals the malevolent undercurrent beneath,” he said.

“Controlling and coercive behaviour of this kind requires an effective assessment of a pattern of behaviour, the impact of which is cumulative.”

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