Judge grants order to protect couple from 'abusive' son

The High Court has made a "highly unusual" order protecting an elderly couple from their allegedly abusive son.

Sir Nicholas Wall, President of the Family Division, ruled that he had jurisdiction to grant a local authority's application for a non-molestation injunction against DL, who is in his 50s.

The authority - which like DL, his 90-year-old disabled mother and 85-year-old father cannot be identified - accepted that the couple were capable of managing their own affairs and of deciding whether DL should continue to live under their roof.

But, it stepped in because it felt it owed a duty to them to protect them from DL's allegedly "aggressive" conduct.

The judge said that the authority had documented incidents going back to 2005 which, it said, included physical assaults, verbal threats, and DL controlling where his parents moved in the house or outside and who might visit them.

"There have also been, it says, consistent reports that DL is seeking to coerce Mr L into transferring the ownership of the house into DL's name and that he has also placed considerable pressure on both his parents to have Mrs L moved into a care home against her wishes."

The authority recognised that Mrs L, in particular, wished to preserve her relationship with her son and did not want any proceedings taken against him.

She worried that, if steps were taken to remove him, he might at worst commit suicide or, at best, she might lose contact.

The judge said the authority had rejected using the criminal law, applying to the Court of Protection, seeking an anti-social behaviour order or applying under the Housing Act, and he agreed that none of those remedies was currently appropriate.

Instead, it argued that the court had authority, under its inherent jurisdiction to protect vulnerable adults and under the Local Government Act, to make an injunction restraining DL, although it emphasised that it was not seeking to exclude him from the house.

Making public today his reasons for granting the "highly unusual" application earlier this month, the judge said that he had heard only one side, and made no findings of fact.

The authority had decided to apply without giving notice to DL partly because it feared that this might provoke the violence it sought to prevent.

Nothing interfered with DL's right to apply for the order to be set aside, and any future hearing would take place in his locality.