Vulnerable People Sometimes Need Protection From Their Own Families

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Local authorities have a duty to look after the interests of vulnerable people and that can sometimes mean protecting them against members of their own families. In a case on point, a son who fraudulently impersonated his elderly father on the phone found himself at risk of imprisonment.

The father, aged 82, suffered from dementia and had provisionally been declared incapable of making decisions for himself. His local authority had become heavily involved in his affairs and viewed his son as a pernicious influence on him. The council obtained an injunction which, amongst other things, forbade the son from having direct or indirect contact with his father and from approaching within 100 metres of his father’s home.

In finding the son in contempt of that order, a family judge noted that he had been seen leaving his father’s home by a carer after the injunction was issued. There was also compelling evidence that he had impersonated his father in making a telephone order for a British Telecom landline and broadband facilities.

Analysis of phone records showed that the son had made use of the fraudulently obtained landline to make numerous calls to his girlfriend from his father’s address. Sentencing of the son was adjourned. However, the penalties for contempt range from up to two years’ imprisonment to an unlimited fine.