Blind War Veteran, 95, Who Wants To Go Home Prepares For Next Battle

Elderley man looks out window

This is a story that has just broke cover form the Brian Farmer at the Press Association, and it served as a reminder of just how powerful the motivation to be home can be.

We don’t know enough about the facts to make any comment on the rights and wrongs of the case, but the veteran’s drive to be at home says volumes about the human need for a place called home.

A blind 97-year-old Second World War veteran who wants to leave a care facility and go home is preparing for the next stage of a legal battle.

The widower, a former Royal Navy gunner who served in the Italian and north African theatres during the 1940s, has already lost two rounds of his fight.

A High Court judge refused to allow the pensioner to go home for Christmas until all evidence and care options had been analysed.

Mr Justice Hayden, who has overseen a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London, raised concerns about the state of the pensioner’s home and about the day-to-day care he would receive at home.

A Court of Appeal judge refused to overturn that ruling.

Lord Justice Baker, who has overseen a hearing in the Court of Appeal in London, said Mr Justice Hayden’s decision had been fair.

Mr Justice Hayden is now due to oversee a trial on January 16 with the pensioner being represented by two lawyers.

Barrister Parishil Patel QC and solicitor Laura Hobey-Hamsher, who works for law firm Bindmans, have agreed to work for free.

They say the veteran has the mental capacity to make his own decisions about where he lives and should be free to choose.

Lawyers representing council social services bosses who have welfare responsibility for the pensioner had asked a judge to make a decision.

Social services bosses agree with arguments put forward by the pensioner’s lawyers.

Barrister Katie Scott, who is leading the council’s legal team, has also argued the pensioner is capable of making his own decisions.

She has told judges that council staff have safety concerns and says a return home might not be wise.

But she says the pensioner has the right to make “unwise” decisions. She says the pensioner can, and will, call for help when at home if he needs it.

The pensioner gave evidence over the telephone at a High Court hearing overseen by Mr Justice Hayden in early December.

He told Mr Justice Hayden he was unhappy at the care facility and wanted to end his life at home.

The pensioner said he was strong enough to look after himself and would get help from a relative.

“I am a veteran and I am due the respect of a veteran who wants to end his life in his home,” he said. “I did six years in the navy during the war. I think I deserve some respect at my age.”

The judge said it had been a privilege to speak to the pensioner.

“I know he is very eager to go home,” said the judge.

“And I don’t discount the possibility that that may ultimately be my decision.

“But I know at the moment, and in the present circumstances, it would be entirely wrong.”

– Judges have ruled the pensioner cannot be identified in media reports. They also say the council involved could not be named because that information might create a jigsaw which would reveal the pensioner’s identity.