Thursday, January 01, 2015

Another shocker from secretive British court

The grandmother who was locked up for hugging her granddaughter said she had been ‘treated worse than a dog’ after she was freed yesterday.

Kathleen Danby, 72, had been forced to spend two nights in prison and one in a police cell – before being hauled before a court in handcuffs yesterday flanked by four security guards.

She raised her arms in relief after a judge at the secretive Court of Protection quashed her three-month prison term for embracing the vulnerable 19-year-old girl.

In an interview with the Mail, the 4ft 11in grandmother told how she had been left terrified and suffered bruises and cuts when she was manhandled by police officers.

She revealed that she had been deprived of sleep and food, refused access to a lawyer and barred from calling her son during her three days in custody.

Astonishingly, police officers and prison guards even refused to allow her to take the daily medicine she needs to combat her liver disease.

‘By the end of my ordeal I felt shattered and very weak,’ she said, adding: ‘I was treated worse than a dog. My first cell wasn’t fit for a dog – let alone a 72-year-old grandmother.

‘And when I told a guard that I was in jail for hugging my granddaughter his jaw dropped in open-mouthed amazement. He was astonished and horrified.

‘I deserve an apology and compensation for the way I have been treated.’

Mrs Danby was originally sentenced in her absence to three months in jail by the Court of Protection in April for hugging her granddaughter.

Physical contact between the pair had been banned by a draconian ruling by Derbyshire County Council’s social services. It launched the legal proceedings when it received photographic evidence of the hug.

In an extraordinary move, she was arrested on Sunday night within minutes of sitting in her seat at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall to watch the comedian Ken Dodd. Describing her arrest, she said: ‘I was just sitting down to enjoy the show when a doorman told me that there was someone there to see me.

‘I went outside and there were two police officers waiting for me. I went quietly to avoid embarrassment.’

She was taken to St Anne Street police station where she claims she was mocked by the duty officers and refused food and medicine all night. ‘They put me in a cell without giving me an evening meal,’ Mrs Danby said.

‘They took away my belt, shoes and coat. It was really rough in there. The pillow was really hard and had no cover. The mattress felt like it was broken. The blanket was worn and used.

‘I didn’t get to sleep until 6.30am and was woken up at 8.30am and told I was being driven to Birmingham. At this stage I felt I was wilting.’ Mrs Danby refused to leave the cell until she was given her medicine.

Ignoring her request, officers then grabbed her by the wrists and bundled her into a prison van, an ordeal which she said left her with cuts and bruises.

She added: ‘I was very annoyed and upset that they could treat somebody at my age in that manner – especially as they did not know anything about me or what I had been arrested for.

‘I told them I needed my pills for my liver disease. I’m not suddenly going to keel over if I don’t have them but it’s not good for me to go without. But they just said they were going to forcibly remove me.’

Mrs Danby was driven from Liverpool to Birmingham Magistrates’ Court where an official told G4S guards that she had been taken to the wrong place.

She was then put back in the van and taken to Foston Hall women’s prison in Derbyshire, whose former inmates include Ian Huntley’s girlfriend Maxine Carr and Karen Matthews, who kidnapped her own daughter Shannon. The grandmother then spent a further two days locked up before she was able to appear before a circuit judge yesterday.

‘By the time I arrived I hadn’t eaten or slept properly for 24 hours,’ she said. ‘I hadn’t received any medication. I had been bullied and driven from pillar to post. I wouldn’t wish my ordeal on anyone. My time in Foston Hall women’s prison was my first time in jail.

‘When I told other inmates about what I was in for their mouths dropped in amazement.’

She said she was told several times she would be able to call her son, but that these proved to be ‘empty promises’. Yesterday morning a guard opened her cell at 6am and told her that she would be appearing in court later that day.

The guard allegedly told her the prison knew about the court hearing, but failed to tell her the previous day. Mrs Danby, from Orkney, met a lawyer for the first time yesterday morning at court – moments before the case was due to start. Her lawyer was given a three-inch file of notes relating to the case.

Meanwhile, Mrs Danby continued to be treated like a common criminal. She was guarded by four G4S prison guards and even handcuffed to a woman officer when she needed to use the toilet.

She was finally freed by a judge when she apologised for breaching an order banning her from hugging her granddaughter. Her Honour Judge Dowding said: ‘I am not here today to change the decision of the previous court. I am here to allow her the chance to purge her contempt. I am satisfied she understands the orders now.’

As the old year turns to the new, Kathleen Danby’s ordeal is a chilling reminder of what a secretive society Britain remains – and the unrestrained powers the authorities can exercise when the public is denied its right to know.

Refused access to the Court of Protection, this paper has no idea whether or not there were good reasons for banning Mrs Danby from contacting her granddaughter.

What we do know for sure is that there can never be any justification for a judge sentencing a 72-year-old to prison in her absence, without giving the public a full explanation of why.

Let 2015, the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, be the year this Kafkaesque court is thrown open to the light of accountability.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

No comments: