Sunday, 23 March 2014

Background - Part 5: The Guardianship Tribunal Hearing

We returned to the UK with heavy hearts.  We had no idea if or when we would ever see Mum again.

We learned shortly after returning to the UK that my mother had been discharged into the “care” of my brother and his wife.  The inspection visit had finally taken place and the house had been deemed safe enough for Mum to return there.  I’m certain the inspection visit was arranged swiftly as they had no idea how long we were staying in Australia and would definitely have wanted to prevent us seeing Mum if they could.  The fact Mum was back with my brother was a cause of concern for us as Mum had suffered a number of falls at their house that were unwitnessed and unheard by the family.  It was so very difficult being back in the UK.  We were worrying about Mum constantly.  She was such a meek and selfless person, she wouldn’t have wanted to feel she was a burden and would have just accepted any treatment meted out to her.

In September 2008 we had moved our daughter, Jade, to Bournemouth, Dorset, as she had been offered a place at the Arts Institute University, to study photography.  Our son, Zaine, has Aspergers Syndrome, a form of Autism, and he was additionally suffering from an associated condition that left Dave and me utterly exhausted as we cared for him.

Matters started to move ahead with regard to the Court of Protection case in the UK and also the Guardianship Tribunal (GT) in Australia.

At Sandra Hall’s (hospital Social Worker) suggestion, I wrote to the GT and requested to be joined as a party to the proceedings. There were pages and pages of forms to complete and I had many conversations with administration staff at the GT in New South Wales.  The EB/PBCC have had much in the way of negative publicity in Australia and one particular lady with whom I had regular dealings at the GT knew all about them.  She told me that the EB/PBCC were very much disliked in Australia because of they way they split families.  It was a relief not to have to explain the situation each time, because they just knew, but even so, they were horrified to hear my story.

As well as completing lengthy forms for the forthcoming hearing in Australia, I also had to fill in numerous other forms for the Court of Protection in the UK.  I had to put my case forward, stating exactly why I objected to my brother registering the Power of Attorney.  It was complicated because the reasons under which I could object were set out in legal terminology, which I had to get my head around first.  My best friend, Helen Ghinn would visit and after we had managed to lull her young baby girl to sleep in a darkened room, Dave, Helen and I would sit and tackle the forms together.

Having previously worked part-time, at the beginning of February 2008 I had taken on a full time position and also began studies to enhance and help my career.  On the 3rd February 2008 Dad had passed away, and apart from the few months after this and before Mum was kidnapped, the amount I had to cram into my daily life was phenomenal; I was also doing the paperwork and accounts for Dave’s business.  I was attending numerous medical appointments with Zaine and then making up the time at work, meaning I was working through many lunch hours or working late at night.  I worked only ten minutes walk away from home and in lunch hours when I wasn’t working, I would rush home to send another email, or do some more work on the dreaded forms.

On 21 September 2009, the Guardianship Tribunal hearing took place in Australia.  It was a four-hour hearing, commencing at 09:00 in Australia, which was midnight here.  I was linked to the hearing by telephone.  Our friend Mark Ghinn had very kindly offered support to us during the hearing and was with us for the duration . 

The tribunal panel comprised three members; a solicitor, a Dr and a community member.  Also present were a professional from Woy Woy Hospital, my brother, his wife and my mother.  My brother had a solicitor present, which seemed most bizarre as he wasn’t going to be speaking on behalf of my brother.  I’m not sure why my brother felt this was necessary.

My brother had applied to become my mother’s legal guardian.  However, the views of both hospital professionals and myself were that an independent guardian should be appointed instead. 

The panel heard the views of all parties.

My mother stated clearly that she did not intend to stay permanently in Australia. She confirmed that she was in Australia on holiday and wanted to return to her home in the UK.

The Occupational Therapist advised in submitted documentation that from conversations with Mum, she had gleaned that Mum was under the impression that she was on holiday and would be returning to her UK home.  She was doubtful that Mum would have made the decision to live in Australia, long term.

The Social Worker advised, also in submitted documentation, that Mum was at risk of exploitation and that she was easily susceptible to this.  Her professional opinion was that a guardian was needed who would endeavor to protect Mum’s access to us and vice versa, to ensure that she was not isolated from those she loves.

The Nursing Unit Manager advised that there had been no disclosure by my brother to me about Mum and her living arrangements and that the move to Australia had been made under a cloud of secrecy.  She pointed out that Mum would not have the capacity to make informed decisions about applying for Australian residency, nor be able to make an informed decision regarding where she would live.  She stated that there should be an access function via a Guardian so that we could have contact with Mum.

My brother, however, felt that Mum DID have the capacity to make decisions regarding where she would live.  He advised that while she was in hospital she had applied to continue to remain living in Australia.

This was rubbish.  Mum had been exploited and unduly influenced to sign the application.  This was illegal.  Mum had entered the country on a visitor’s visa and had a return flight booked.  My brother had made her sign the paperwork but of course she was not at all aware of what she was signing as she had Dementia and did not have the mental capacity to make such a lifestyle choice.  Note the obvious conflict here:  In the UK, my brother had applied to register Power of Attorney, because he agreed that Mum did not have capacity.  However, in the hearing, he was stating the opposite, that she DID in fact have the capacity to make such decisions.  It doesn’t work both ways!  The tribunal panel saw through my brother and his wife and my brother was forced to admit that he obtained Mum’s original signature for the immigration papers, knowing that she did not have the mental capacity to make such a decision for herself.  Because of the brethren, my brother and his wife exploited my mother.

My brother also alleged that Mum had planned to emigrate to Australia with him.  If this was the case, which clearly it was not, there would not be an entry in my mother’s hospital admission notes, stating that Marilyn, my brother’s wife, told staff that mum was holidaying with them.  They were lying, they had told numerous people and organisations that Mum was in Australia on holiday.  They were obviously trying to move Mum to Australia via “the back door” in a deceitful manner and had said she was there on holiday to protect their own immigration status. Their lies flew in the face of all the hard evidence which clearly demonstrated the opposite.  Again, it doesn’t work both ways. 

Mum clearly believed what she had been told, that she was going on holiday.  Her house was left with all her and my late father’s possessions within.  There was clean crockery on the draining board and her engagement ring on the dressing table.  She had asked her neighbour to look after her plants.

My brother tried putting words in Mum’s mouth when she was speaking, and told her that Australia was her home.  It was revealed in the tribunal that Clement and Marilyn had used £10,000 of Mum’s money for UK lawyer fees, immigration papers and three flights to NZ.

When questioned, my brother said it would be “unthinkable” for Mum to return to the UK, even if full time care was provided.  He said that if he was made Mum’s guardian, he was not agree to Mum moving back home, even if it was her express wish.

When asked why he had not told me of his plans to take Mum to Australia, he said he didn’t feel it was appropriate.

The tribunal ruled that a guardianship order should be made and that the Public Guardian was appointed.

Following the appointment of the Public Guardian I was able on some occasions to speak to Mum at my brother’s house.  The time difference made it very difficult though.  I either had to stay up really late to try and speak to Mum after she was up and dressed in the morning in Australia, or I had to set our alarm to wake me at 05:00 here in order to talk to Mum, after she had eaten her lunch, but before she had an afternoon nap.  Both options were hard because with working full time, staying up until 01:00 was a challenge.  Likewise, waking up early to make a phone call and having to be immediately awake was a struggle.  Clem and Marilyn were problematic to deal with.  The phone would be passed to Mum and I would hear some whispering for a few seconds and then Mum’s voice would come on the phone.  The first thing she would say to me, before even saying “hello”, was “I’m very happy with the care I’m receiving here”.  There is no disputing that she was being told what to say.  The phone was put on loudspeaker, obviously so that Clem and Marilyn could listen to the whole conversation.  Mum would say that my voice was so loud.  She was obviously holding the phone to her ear having not realised that it was on speaker-phone.  It was lovely to talk to Mum, and she would try to keep the conversation going as long as she possibly could.

I was supposed to be kept fully informed of all decisions regarding Mum as per conversations and emails exchanged with Peter Wilson, the Public Guardian. 

At the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010, I tried to call my brother’s house on a number of occasions to speak to Mum, but there had been no reply, then on 9 February 2010, I received an email from a cousin of mine, Reg Hendricks, who lives in NSW.  At that point I had never met him.  Reg has never been in the brethren.  He told me that he and his wife, Lorraine, had visited Mum in a nursing home.  I had no idea that Mum was in a nursing home as I had not been given this information by either my brother or Peter Wilson.

Apparently, Reg had somehow received information regarding my mother’s whereabouts and had rung and spoken to Marilyn who told him Mum was not available.  Later Reg rang and had spoken to Clement who told him that Mum was in a nursing home.  Reg and Lorraine visited and my brother told them they could only spend 20 minutes with Mum.  Reg and Lorraine had a lovely time with Mum, who greeted Reg with open arms and said “Reggie, you are a handsome boy!”  Rather than allow them some privacy, my brother and his wife stayed with them throughout the visit and at one point they chatted with Mum in Afrikaans, which caused my brother to become somewhat uncomfortable as he had no idea what they were talking about.  Reg took some photos.

My cousin Reg with Mum (Aunty Eleanor)
Cousin Reg with my very smug looking brother and his wife
On 14 March 2010, I received an email from Reg’s brother, Ivan, in Australia.  He also had never been in the brethren.  He said he had traveled from his home in Melbourne, to Sydney, in order to visit Mum.  He rang my brother and asked to see Mum briefly as he had very happy memories of time spent with his Aunty.  My brother said he was at work and couldn’t give an immediate answer.  The next day they spoke again and unbelievably, knowing that Ivan had travelled from Melbourne, my brother said he needed at least two weeks notice for a visit to Mum and that Mum was committed to a number of appointments.  Ivan told Clement that Mum was very special to him as she had delivered him some 60 years ago.  My brother said he would return the call.  He never did.  They cruelly deprived Mum of contact with those whom she loved. 

I had sent Mum pictures of us all, but they must have been intercepted by Clement and Marilyn because when the Guardian, Peter Wilson went to visit Mum, he told me that there were many pictures on display in Mum’s room, but none of us.

……….. Coming soon:  Another Court Case, Australia 2011 and Freedom for Mum at last

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Background - Part 4: Australia 2009

The worst and most uncaring action for a Dementia-sufferer to endure, is to be removed from their familiar surroundings and all that they know, and from those whom they love and care for, to be placed somewhere entirely different where they know no one apart from a few family members.  That is exactly what the brethren did to my mother.  This was an act of cruelty.  Mum had absolutely no choice in the move to Australia, nor any choice in where she would be living.  It was decided for her.  She had verbalised after Dad died that she did not want to live with my brother and his wife, she didn’t like Marilyn’s bossy and domineering ways; she was not alone in this view.  Jean Gurr promised us that Mum would not be made to live with them, yet this is what she was made to do.  This behavior demonstrates the control that exists within the brethren. 

My brother and other brethren claim that Mum chose to emigrate to Australia, but they have not provided a single piece of evidence in support of their claims.  I have a wealth of hard evidence to the contrary, which proves that they acted in a duplicitous manner and I am so grateful that I have been meticulous in keeping records.

Although my brother and his wife played a huge part in this diabolical conspiracy, it was in actual fact, a cunning plot, engineered and executed by the brethren.  Anyone who is naïve enough to think this is a “family matter” and that my brother is just a bit unusual, is clearly deluded.  My brother and his wife were used as pawns in a particularly evil and cruel game.  Despite the fact that my brother told Dave on his doorstep last year “I’m not anyone’s puppet”, that is exactly what he is.  The ordinary, basic brethren are loyal followers who will carry out instructions from above without question.  Normal, rational reasoning does not enter into it.  They are so brainwashed that they cannot see they are being constantly controlled.  There are levels, and each level is steered and managed by those above them.  Bruce Hales, is the man at the top, in ultimate control of his flock.  He is the universal leader of the EB/PBCC, also known by the brethren as: “the man of God”, “the Elect Vessel” or “our modern day Paul”.   

If the carefully organised kidnapping of my mother was a result of my brother’s actions alone, then all the other brethren who lied to me and deceived me would not have been involved.  The brethren deceitfully concealed from me the fact that Mum was not merely going on a short holiday, but instead was being forced to move to another country.  To be deceitful is the same as lying, the brethren themselves preach this, yet it suits them to behave in this unChristian manner.

The following brethren are some of those who lied to us:

Jean Gurr :  She could have simply told me that she didn’t have my brother’s telephone number because he was now living in Australia.  But she didn’t.  She could have told me that Mum was in Australia.  But she didn’t. 

Dick Lynes:  Dave spoke to him on 25th May 2009.  Dick mistook Dave for David Walker (where Mum had spent six months in NZ before being taken to Australia), and said “Mr Walker!” in a cheery greeting.  However, as soon as Dave explained that he was Dave Evans, Marion’s husband, Dick’s tone changed completely and he sounded weary, telling Dave that he had spent most of the day in hospital as he had something wrong with his leg.  Dave asked Dick if he could shed any light on what was happening with my mother and Dick said he wasn’t very up to date on the situation.  Dave asked Dick where Mum was and in a very slow voice, Dick replied, “she is.....being cared for”.  When Dave asked where, he said he couldn’t give an address, as he didn’t know.  When Dave asked if Mum was in Australia with Clem, Dick replied very hesitantly, saying he thought she could possibly be there, but he wasn’t 100% certain.  He lied.  He knew exactly where Mum was.  Dave asked if Mum was returning to the UK.  Dick said he wasn’t aware of anything being fixed at that point.  The conversation continued in the same manner, with Dick telling lies, upon lies, upon lies.  Dave asked where in Australia.  Dick’s words were, “it’s errrmmm, cor dear, where IS it…?.....I think it could be…… New South Wales”.

I also spoke to Dick, on 5th and 8th June.  He could have told me that Mum was in hospital.  But he didn’t.  Mum was admitted to hospital on 19th May 2009.  When I asked him if he was aware that Mum was in hospital, he denied it, but in a strange and hesitant way.  An extract of the conversation went as follows:

Me:           When Dave first rang you, did you know Mum was in hospital?
Dick:         Not when…, I didn’t…… (pauses and whispers to himself as if struggling to think), I wasn’t aware of it at first.  I’m pretty sure that’s when you first rang, I couldn’t give you chapter and verse, but I wasn’t aware until I’d made contact out there and I’d tried once or twice, as you know, thinking that I had the right number and that they just weren’t in, because of the time that I rang.  No, it would have been later, I’m positive of that…
Me:           Mum’s been in hospital since 19th May
Dick:         I hadn’t realised that, I’m sure.  Your call was a bombshell to me.  And, well, I hadn’t even got his number.  I hadn’t been in touch and I hadn’t heard anything.  It was since then, because somebody locally “gave it" out [announced it in a meeting] at the same time as I found out that she was in hospital.  I had no idea.  That’s the truth.

I don't believe him.

Irma Daries:  On 29 April 2009, Irma told me that Mum had returned to the UK to live with my brother.  She lied.  However, in a later witness statement she denied this, claiming that it was a misconception on my part.  The main point is that she knew where my mother was but she did not tell me. 

David Daries:  In our conversation on 8 May 2009, when I asked him if my brother had sold his property in the UK and moved to Australia, he said he wasn’t sure.  He told me he did not know my brother’s address or telephone number in Australia, yet he and his wife had transported my mother there to be with my brother the previous month.  David even refused to give me contact details for Australian brethren so that I could contact them in an effort to get in touch with Mum.

Neil Kennard:  He telephoned and spoke to me on a few occasions.  He asked for a picture of us.  He told me details (incorrect as we later learned) about Mum’s medical condition.  He told me that he could obtain a medical report pertaining to Mum and send it to us.  I received an email from my brother that was sent from Neil’s email address.

For the purpose of this blog I have had to listen to conversations I recorded at the times they took place.   Hearing them again actually makes me feel sick.  Their stomach churning lies are unbelievable.  I am not exaggerating when I state that they have lied, manipulated and deceived and it is just horrendous to re-live.

Sorry, I have digressed, but I wanted to include the above so that readers can have a better insight into the nightmare that was unfolding before us.

Going back to being with Mum in Australia, we managed to visit her for six days before the brethren found out we were there.  Hospital staff told us that it was very rare that she received visitors.  

On the sixth day, when Jade was lying beside her grandmother on her bed and Mum was singing songs to us in Afrikaans that I can remember from my childhood, her bedside phone rang.  Mum answered the call, paused and told us it was a Mrs Trimmer.   She returned to the call and told Mrs Trimmer that her daughter had come to visit from England with her husband and children.  Within fifteen minutes my brother and a church elder, Neil Kennard, turned up.  Neil Kennard is prominent in the brethren leadership.  He is married to a first cousin of Bruce Hales.

Neil and my brother were visibly surprised to see us.  They tried to be over friendly in a way that came across as very false.  Neil kept querying when we had arrived, where we were staying and when we were leaving.  We gave nothing away.  Dave and I went to the nurses’ station to speak briefly and Neil followed us out and questioned us further.  He told me that it was my mother’s choice to be in Australia.  He told me she was not well enough to leave hospital.  By way of trying to explain to me how unwell Mum was, Neil told me she often doesn't remember people.  Since she had been taken to a country where she only knew a few family members and everyone else was a new person to her, this was not surprising.  Every time I tried to speak, Neil spoke over me.  Dave interrupted Neil, raising his voice, he told Neil that he had had his say and suggested that Neil listen to what I had to say.  Neil’s face went bright red.  He clearly was not used to being spoken to like that, but he did stop talking briefly.  I told Neil that Mum had been deemed medically fit by the Dr who was in charge of her care.  Neil then went on to tell me that Mum would be staying in Australia until she died and then her Will would come into effect.  I was absolutely astounded that Neil was speaking about Mum’s death and her Will.  What on earth did this have to do with him?  It wasn’t something I had raised.  Neil’s manner and attitude were absolutely dreadful. 

When we left the hospital it was late at night, and dark.  As we walked through the car park we were aware of someone ducking down behind the cars.  We realised we were being spied on.  As we walked back to the station we noticed a couple of cars with brethren in driving up and down the road at regular intervals.  We were followed to the station and onto the platform.  I think they were ensuring that we were definitely leaving and not returning, for that evening, at least.

From that point on, each time we visited Mum her bed was surrounded by brethren.  There would be eight or more of them, seated on all the available chairs.  They would crowd around Mum’s bed so that we could not get near her and there was absolutely no recognition that we were Mum’s relatives.  They would just look at us and look away again.  This was obviously contrived by the brethren to make it very difficult for us to be with Mum.  On more than one occasion a nurse asked the brethren to wait in the common room so that the "family from England" could spend some time with Mum.  On one of these occasions, two brethren ladies left the hospital building.  However, when we left some time later after spending time with Mum, we saw they were sitting in a car in the car park.  We went to tell them we were leaving, and I recall Dave said made some reference to them being on “sentry duty”.  Three months later, one of the women, a Mrs Hyslop, provided an account of their visit to the hospital on that particular day.  It is full of lies and is written to deceive the reader into believing that my mother did not want us there.

One morning, we had just left our hotel on the way to visit Mum, when I received a call from Sandra Hall, the Social Worker, to say that my brother and his wife had taken Mum out at 08:00 that morning and had told the staff that Mum would not be returning until late that evening.  Sandra was most apologetic and said this had never happened before.  This must have been deliberately orchestrated to prevent us from seeing Mum.  In actual fact, we found out later, that on that particular day, hospital staff had previously requested to carry out an inspection on my brother's home, but he had said they were too busy to allow it to go ahead.

Sandra Hall became aware that my brother had obtained Mum's signature for a bridging visa application for an aged person.  This was illegal.  Mum had decreased executive function, so she did not have the capacity to make such a lifestyle decision (as per the Mental Health Act) and my brother did not have Power of Attorney.  As I have mentioned before, Mum was in Australia on a visitor’s visa with a return ticket to the UK.  As a result of Sandra's concerns for Mum, she made an application to the Guardianship Tribunal.  She recommended the appointment of an independent Guardian and a Financial Manager for my mother as she was a vulnerable person and susceptible to suggestions that were being made to her by my brother.  During a chat with Sandra when she expressed her concerns for Mum’s future, she told me that having had a private chat with Mum the previous day, Mum had excitedly told her, “my baby girl came to see me!”  She noted this in her letter to the Guardianship Tribunal and said it was important that my mother should not be separated from those whom she loved.  In my mother’s medical notes, there are numerous references to plans for her to return to the UK in October 2009.  Why, would this be if Mum had planned to emigrate to Australia?  It can only be because plans had been made to illegally take Mum into the country but my brother and his wife needed to keep up the façade that she was only holidaying with them in order to protect their own immigration status.  Both versions cannot be true.

It was lovely spending time with Mum when we could, albeit, made very difficult by the brethren’s constant presence.  Mum’s Dementia had the effect that she seemed to forget many of the brethren rules.  For example, one time when we visited she had some sweets and biscuits which had been given to her by one of her now frequent brethren visitors.  She insisted we share them and eat with her.  Many readers will know that brethren are forbidden from eating with non-brethren.  It did amuse us to think that this was not at all what the brethren had in mind when they brought her these gifts!  Another time she insisted that I sampled her soup.  She wanted me to see how delicious it was.  It was just beautiful to see Mum being normal, without her usual fear of what the brethren would think.

Mum and me

We tried so hard to bring Mum home with us and the hospital staff would have allowed this.  However, my brother held Mum's passport and ticket and would never have released these to us.  

On the 3rd July 2009 our time in Australia came to an end.  We had seen Mum for the last time the day before and she had walked with us on her walking frame down the corridor to the double doors that led to the exit.  She kissed and hugged each one of us in turn and asked us when we would be back.  She stood and watched as we walked the difficult walk along the corridor and out of the hospital.  We turned and waved before we went out of her sight.  That is the last time that Jade and Zaine saw their grandmother.

On 3 July 2009 we were collected by our friend, Dave Tennent, and driven to the airport.  As the car pulled up at the airport, my mobile rang.  It was Neil Kennard.  He said that he would like to talk things over with me.  One issue I had repeatedly queried, was why I had not been told that my mother was going to Australia.  In this conversation Neil insisted that we “knew Mum was going to NZ because she had told us”.  I pointed out that if Dave had not visited her, quite by chance, two days before she left the country, we would not have found out.  In any case, we did not know Mum was going to Australia, she only told us of a NZ holiday, which was all she knew.  Neil said to me, “I found out that someone else was going to tell you, except they knew you already knew”.  He said he could prove it to me.  Listening back to this recording I am without words.  My mother, unbeknown to her, was about to embark on a huge life-changing journey, and no one saw fit to tell me.  It was Mum who told Dave at the first opportunity she had.  If “someone else” was going to tell me, when on earth would that have been?  When she was at the airport?  The absurdity of this awful situation hits me afresh as I share this with you all!

On the plane the realisation that I might never see my mother again, hit me.  It broke my heart.

.......... Coming soon:  Court Cases in both Hemispheres, Australia 2011 and Freedom for Mum at last  

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Background - Part 3: Finding Mum

The following is a brief extract of the transcript of the telephone call with my brother on 2 June 2009

Me:           Mum told me that she wanted to come back to England.  And before she went to Australia, or went to New Zealand, she actually told Dave that she wanted to be back for her birthday – and she had every intention of being back for her birthday
Clem:       Yeah, maybe, but she is currently very happy where she is ..... and we’ve got accommodation here for her.  She’s being looked after well.  Marly’s looking after her well....
Me:           Do you know the other thing she insisted on? She didn’t want to live with you and Marly, and Jean Gurr promised us that she would never be made to do anything that she didn’t want to do
Clem:        Well, I spoke to her the other day..... and she’s perfectly happy where she is. She’s very thankful for the provision that’s been made
Me:           You spoke to her the other day....?  What do you mean, you spoke to her the other day?”
Clem:        I asked her, my mother, I speak to my mother nearly every day, but the point is, I spoke to her about this issue the other day....
Me:           So where is she then?
Clem:        Wait a minute, let me explain something.  She lives with us, OK?  We’ve got a garage conversion, and she’s got accommodation in there and she’s very comfortable and happy with it and she keeps remarking on how she is, in the garage.  She can hardly believe it was a garage, it was put together very quickly and very properly, it wasn’t shabby, it’s just like a little flat for her and she’s got a wet room, shower-room, bathroom, toilet, and everything....
Me:           But you don’t see her on a daily basis then?
Clem:        Well I go to work early and I come home early (indignantly) But I do USUALLY see her every day, yes, I’ll pop in and see her
Me:           Have you any idea how ridiculous this sounds..........?
Clem:        What do you mean?
Me:           It just sounds ridiculous to me…. You saying, “I spoke to her the other day”, as if you don’t have too much to do with her anymore
Clem:        I’m sorry if you think that way, but please don’t think like that.  It’s not that I don’t speak to my mother or speak to her hardly ever, I’m saying that I asked her this question the other day, and she told me about how happy she was to be where she is and she’s cared for very well.  She said that herself, spontaneously, several times.  That’s what I’m talking about
Me:           Well, I’m telling you that when I spoke to her in New Zealand, she told me every single time that she wanted to come back to England, so for you to say that ..... then ...... she must have been lying to me then?
Clem:        I can’t tell you about that.  I’m just telling you the current situation is she’s very happy.  And she can tell you herself
Me:           I would like to speak to her
Clem:        Yes I know you would, but she’s not available at the moment, I can arrange for a time when you can. I can’t stay on the phone VERY long because I’ve got to be going to work shortly, so .... it’s ten to six now
Me:           I still want to know why I wasn’t told.  Why I wasn’t given a chance to say goodbye. So what gives you then the right to take her to the other side of the world, without even saying goodbye to her daughter?  You’re depriving me of my mother and you’re depriving my mother of me.  Regardless of what you think Clem, I had a relationship with Mum, AND Dad
Clem:        Yes, but, you took yourself away from the relationship, Marion
Me:           No, I didn’t take myself away from the relationship.  I was IN a relationship.  Dad used to come round here
Clem:        Yes I realise that, but you took yourself away, you walked away from the fellowship, and stayed there
Me:           I walked away from the brethren Clem, because I didn’t want to live under such unrealistic constraints.  I never left a relationship with my parents.  And my parents, BOTH, quite happily carried on a relationship with me in secret.  If my mum didn’t want to speak to me, she would have told me that herself
Clem:        Well, I, I’m just mentioning the facts as, as they stand at this point.  That’s all

As I said before, he told me he didn’t have to answer my questions and put the phone down on me.

I have included this extract for readers to see how bizarre it was. Why had he said Mum was "unavailable"?  Why didn't he just say that she was asleep, after all, it was, as he said, "ten to six" in the morning.  I was very worried and didn’t know if Mum was alive or dead.

The next day I rang Irma in NZ.  She told me that she did not have a contact number for my brother.  She was very vague and said she didn’t want to get involved.  She said that information was being withheld from them because there was a fear they would pass information to me.  The previous day Marilyn, my brother's wife had called and told them not to pass any information to us.  I told Irma I was very worried and asked if Mum was OK, was she in hospital?  Irma stammered and stuttered and said that she really didn’t know what to say, and that she would desperately love to speak to Mum herself.  I asked again if Mum was in hospital and Irma said that she really didn’t know what the present situation was.

I feared the worst, and decided to ring hospitals north of Sydney, that was all the information I had.  I rang the General Hospital in a town called Gosford, about an hour and a half north of Sydney.  I was expecting it to be the first of many that I would ring.  I was absolutely astonished when I was told that Mum had been admitted a few weeks previously.  I was transferred to Mum’s bedside phone and I heard her voice.  She was clearly delighted to hear from me, but my brother happened to be there and took the phone from her.  He told me that he would not allow me to speak to Mum, and once more, he put the phone down on me.

It was all falling into place now, the strange things my brother said in our conversation – Mum wasn’t “available”, he’d spoken to her “the other day”.  Irma’s vagueness and discomfort when I questioned her if Mum was in hospital.  Why the secrecy?  What on earth did they think I could do in the knowledge the Mum was in hospital?  Kidnap her?  Then I realized, they didn’t want me to know that Mum was in hospital because a hospital is a public place and as such, if I could get to Australia,they could not stop me from seeing her.  That was the reason for the secrecy!

Over the next few days I had several conversations with medical staff at the hospital.  They knew a lot about the Exclusive Brethren, given the negative publicity they have in Australia.  They told me that Mum had been admitted following a series of falls in my brother’s home.  These had been “unwitnessed, unheard by family” (extracted from Mum’s medical notes).  They told me what a darling Mum was and how she would tell them stories about her life as a midwife in South Africa. 

Amongst other things, I was told by staff that Mum had a return ticket to the UK.  Notes were read to me from a recent family meeting, which confirmed that the Physiotherapist and the Occupational Therapist were both happy for Mum to be discharged with a care package, but that Clem and Marilyn were adamant that they did not want Mum to return to their home.  They wanted her to get “better” before they would consider this. This despite the fact she had been declared medically fit.  Staff tried to explain to them that, even if Mum spent more time in a sub-acute facility, it didn’t mean that she was going to get any “better”, as such, because she was already medically fit.  Obviously, her Dementia could not get better.  My brother and his wife enquired about the possibility of a residential facility but it was explained to them that as Mum was on a holiday visa, she was probably not eligible.  This is an interesting point as my brother insists that it was Mum’s choice to emigrate to Australia.  I also have copies of my mother’s medical notes, which confirm that Marilyn told hospital staff that Mum was holidaying with them.  Obviously these lies were because they were hoping to take Mum into Australia via the back door, and as they were new to Australia themselves they wanted to protect their own immigration status.  It is amazing how these supposedly “Christian” people lie and deceive to suit themselves. 

One nurse told me that Marilyn had told the nurses that they had to shower Mum.  So the nurses obliged and once in the shower Mum apparently said, “I’m sick of this, she rules my life”.  How awful it must have been for my poor mum, in hospital, in a country where she knew next to no one, being controlled and dominated like that.

I asked a nurse if my brother took Mum out at all and spent time with her, and she said they didn’t.  That made me feel really sad.  Mum was such a gentle, selfless person.  She had spent her life caring for people.  From the age of 23 she had run her own private midwifery practice in South Africa. I can always remember her putting others first, and now, in the twilight of her life, she had been dragged to the other side of the world, away for all she knew, only to be left in a hospital, alone.

Following conversations as above with nurses, on 12 June 2009, the Dr called me.  He confirmed everything that the nurses had told me.  Mum had been medically fit for weeks but that my brother and his wife didn’t want her back home with them.  He said that his view was that Mum was able from a medical point of view, to travel to the UK, with support.  The Dr went on to say that Mum had been moved to a convalescing hospital, Woy Woy General, about an hour earlier and that he had been in touch with the Dr there.  He told me that he had spoken directly him and informed him of the EB issue and the fact that I would like my mother to return to the UK and he thought that was a good idea.

Shortly after my conversations with hospital staff, Neil Kennard, an Australian leader of the brethren, rang me twice.  He was clearly ringing to try to smooth things over and he talked about a lot of irrelevant issues.  He asked for my email address so his wife could send me pictures of Gosford! “Just so you know what the area is like”!  He said he could obtain a medical report for Mum and email it to me!  He said that the reason that Mum was now in Australia was because my niece, Leanne, married an Australian “and that’s what attracted Clem out here in the first place”.  I had to keep directing him back to the point, which was MUM.  He asked, of all things, for me to send him a picture of the family and me!  “Just so that we know you a little bit more”!  As if I was going to send a family photo to someone I didn’t know, who was hell bent on playing for time and perpetuating the lies.  He kept telling me that things are not the way they appear.  I reminded him that Clem took the phone from Mum and wouldn’t let me speak to her, then cut the phone off.  To me, it was perfectly clear, the way things were.  He said that had Clem panicked after cutting the phone off and wanted to get back in touch with me and had rung Neil about it.  I don’t know why he thought I would believe him.

As mentioned above, I already knew from the Dr I had spoken to that Mum had moved from Gosford Hospital to Woy Woy Hospital, around 11 km away.  I wanted to know if Neil would be honest with me, so I asked him if Mum was still in Gosford Hospital.  He told me that they had moved her to “a different part of the hospital”.  I queried his response, asking if she was definitely in the same hospital.   He answered that she was, that she had been moved from the main area, to a lower care area, but that it was definitely in the same hospital, just a different part.  So he lied.

I found the phone calls from Neil Kennard most unsettling.  However, they are also noteworthy.  Some readers will know that the brethren’s way of wriggling out of matters when they are under the spotlight for wrong-doing, is to lie, and say it is a personal or “family” matter, as opposed to a church matter, despite that fact that instruction to act in a particular way has come from the brethren leadership.  The brethren then distance themselves from the issue in order to try to appear blameless.  The brethren regularly take this stance, for example, in the dividing of a husband and wife.  The brethren have repeatedly claimed it is a “family matter”, in my situation (more on this later), but from the intervention of Neil Kennard, now and later, it is quite clear that is not the case. 

My best friend Helen and I went to visit Mum's next-door neighbour to see what we could glean about the situation.  Carol was a lovely, friendly woman whom I had met once before.  She told us that one or two days before Mum left for NZ, Mum had told her that she was going on a short holiday.  Mum asked Carol to look after her plants, which Carol willingly agreed to do.  It is clear that Mum had no idea of what lay ahead.  If she had made plans to emigrate she would definitely have told us and her neighbour.  Sending Mum to NZ was a smoke screen for the real plan - a conspiracy to sever all contact between my mother and me, my children and their grandmother and my husband and his mother-in-law.

We abandoned our booked family holiday to Portugal and within the space of about two weeks the four of us were on flights to Sydney, Australia.  I needed to see Mum and to establish exactly what the situation was.  

We arrived in Sydney on 23 June 2009 and were met by a good friend, Dave Tennent.  He kindly drove us to our hotel and gave us invaluable information about transport and other local information.  We freshened up and went for a walk to find some breakfast.  Then we made our way to the train station for the train to Woy Woy.  After the 25 hour flight, the train engines on the 90 minute train ride lulled us all and our heads were flinging this way and that as we fought slumber.  We very nearly missed our stop!  The fifteen minute walk to the hospital woke us up again.

Mum was absolutely overjoyed to see us, as were we to see her.  The love shone from her face.  It was an emotional reunion.

With Mum at last, as soon as we could get to her after arriving in Australia
Please note that all references to conversations throughout this blog are 100% factual and taken from audio recordings made at the time the conversations took place.

..........Next:  Australia 2009, Court Cases, Australia 2011