The woman imprisoned by a secret court yesterday described the shocking moment police descended on her father’s care home to ‘cart me off to jail’. Wanda Maddocks was sentenced for trying to remove her father John from a home where his family thought he was in danger of dying.
But she was not present in court, nor was she represented by a lawyer, when the judgment was made – and her sentencing was not made public for six months. Miss Maddocks, 50, is believed to be the first person to be jailed by the Court of Protection, which settles the affairs of those too ill to make their own decisions.
Last night the case was at the centre of a furious row over behind-closed-doors justice as MPs condemned the secrecy of the court that jailed Miss Maddocks.
She was visiting her frail father when officers arrived to break the news that she had been sentenced to five months in prison.
She said: ‘I walked out of the care home and saw a small white van, then two female police officers approached me with two court officers.
‘They told me I had been sentenced to jail for contempt of court. I couldn’t believe it.
‘They told me it was almost unheard of for somebody to be jailed like that in a civil hearing without first being given the chance to explain themselves.’
Miss Maddocks served six weeks in Foston Hall – the women’s jail in Derbyshire which was home to Maxine Carr, girlfriend of Soham killer Ian Huntley – following her arrest in September.
The Court of Protection had originally ruled that Mr Maddocks, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, must stay in the care home in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, because the plans for his care put forward by his children were considered inadequate.
It argued there was no choice but to take control of his affairs when he was found collapsed in his home by his carers. The council also deny he was badly treated during his stay in several care homes.
What has angered the family and open justice campaigners, however, is the draconian way in which Miss Maddocks was treated and the fact the secretive court was able to send her to jail.