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Reported Case (Court of Protection)

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22/08/2023

TW v Middlesbrough Council [2023] EWCOP 30

Adrian Francis (instructed by Middlesbrough Council) for the respondent.

Author

This was a complex and important case which raises important issues in terms of diagnosis in the context of learning disability.

The core issue in this matter is whether Tony lacks capacity in terms of making decisions as to his residence, his care and his use of the internet and social media. Tony had previously been found to be accessing images of child sexual abuse.

The facts of this case were that Tony was born with cerebral palsy, is deaf and fractured his spine in 2017, since when he has been a wheelchair user. During childhood he had not been educated with his deaf peers and though he had developed sign language it is thought this lack of an appropriate education delayed his learning development. Tony is now in his fifties and in 2014 staff discovered he had been accessing images of child sexual abuse and continued to do so.

The core issue was whether Tony should be moved to Placement 2 which is a residential care home exclusively for male adults at risk of coming into contact with the criminal justice system as a result of their offending behaviour, However only those diagnosed with a learning disability could be admitted. In this judgment, Katie Gollop KC, sitting as Deputy High Court Judge, reviewed the expert evidence before the court and determined that Tony does indeed lack capacity to make the relevant decisions and that his impairment amounted to a functional learning disability

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