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Grandmother, 71, jailed for taking elderly man to Portugal care home against court orders

Stock image. Teresa Kirk, 71, was jailed for taking an 80-year-old man to Portugal against court orders. Credit: PA Wire

A 71-year-old grandmother has been jailed for six months after taking an elderly man with dementia to a care home in his native Portugal and refusing to bring him back to Britain.

Teresa Kirk was found guilty of contempt of court after refusing to obey orders to return the 80-year-old man back to the UK.

The man, identified only as MM, was born in Madeira and had lived in Devon for around 50 years.

According to court transcripts, the man had a "large circle of friends" but did not have the "capacity" to make decisions about his residence and care.

In 2014, Mrs Kirk removed MM from his home to her residence in Sussex. Then in 2015, she took the man to Portugal, where he remains.

However, this defied court orders and recommendations from social workers that it was in MM's best interests to remain in a care home in south-west England.

The elderly man, identified only as MM, was taken to his native Portugal in defiance of court orders. Credit: PA Wire

Passing the sentence at the Court of Protection, Mr Justice Newton said Mrs Kirk has "deeply held, sincere beliefs" and is "genuinely concerned" about the welfare of MM but there was a "long period" where she had "successfully frustrated" court orders.

"I am left with no alternative but to pass a sentence of imprisonment, however much I have made it perfectly clear that I do not wish to do so," he added.

Mrs Kirk's sentence was originally suspended for seven days to give Mrs Kirk one last chance to comply with the order. It is believed she is being held at Bronzefield prison in Surrey.

This would be wrong if she was 25, but she is 71 and has been imprisoned for six months.

What's very important about this case is the public have no idea as to the validity of the reasoning for the court order. I have a better understanding - and in my view it stinks.

I have been worried about secret imprisonments for some time. In this case, the judgment was held back from publication until some weeks after she was sent to jail.

– John Hemming, Former Liberal Democrat MP