A woman jailed by a ‘secret court’ for smuggling her dying father out of a squalid care home and flying him to Turkey has spoken about her ordeal for the first time since arriving back in Britain.
Wanda Maddocks, 50, was caged for contempt of court for fighting to remove her dad John, 80, from the care of Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
The case sparked a national row over transparency in the family justice system after it emerged Wanda was not present or even represented at court.
She was jailed for five months last September but a court order meant she could not be identified until she was released from Foston Hall Prison, Derbys., after a six week spell.
Wanda spoke for the first time since returning to the UK from Turkey – where she ran away with her dad, who passed away in January.
She revealed the family hatched a plot to ‘kidnap’ the dad-of-four, who was depressed and ‘like a zombie’ after being moved between three different care homes in 2010.
Wanda eventually managed to smuggle John out of a fire door into a waiting getaway car at Christmas 2010 before fleeing to Turkey.
The property developer, who now lives in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, said: “He was a total zombie when I went to visit him.
“He was really depressed in there, he wanted to kill himself. He said, ‘if someone doesn’t get me out of here I’m going to hang myself’.
“At the time I was spending a lot of time in Turkey, where I had property interests and I wanted to be back here with dad.
“He was too well to go into a dementia home. He hated it in care. He felt like he was in hell.
“I went to see dad at the home. I hadn’t seen him in two weeks but I wasn’t allowed to see him without supervision.
“Dad said, ‘can you not give me some time on my own with my daughter?’
“He was really upset and wound up. It broke my heart.
“The next day my family managed to get him out.
“They rang me up and I started crying, saying ‘bring him here, I know I can look after him a lot better, I will take him to Turkey’.
“I was thrilled. I had to hide him at my ex-boyfriend’s house.
“The police were telephoning me, they were saying, ‘we are coming to find you’, and ‘we will find you’, and ‘we want your dad back in that home’.
“It scared the life out of us. We didn’t dare draw the curtains, I thought they were going to find us.
“I booked us a flight out to Turkey and we managed to get to Manchester Airport and flew out there.
“Dad improved 100 per cent in Turkey. He was so normal, and he ate well. I knew only I could look after him.
“He started putting weight on. His health improved so much it was amazing. He was going for walks all the time.
“He still had a bit of confusion, but his brain was being stimulated a lot more. I even took him line dancing.
“He decided he wanted to live in Turkey. He said we should go back and sort out his finances so he could move out there.”
Wanda developed bronchitis when the family returned to Stoke-on-Trent and had her father admitted to a care home for two weeks of respite care.
But a Court of Protection battle began between the family and Stoke-on-Trent City Council after it was decided John should be in care for the rest of his life.
Wanda was jailed for contempt of court for reasons including ignoring the court’s orders not to try to remove her father from care on September 11 last year.
She was thought to be the first person to be imprisoned by the Court of Protection, which settles the affairs and appoints deputies to act on behalf of people who are unable to make decisions about their personal health, finance or welfare.
Speaking about the moment she was thrown in jail, Wanda revealed she wasn’t even allowed to ring her dad to tell him she was in prison.
She added: “I was just visiting dad at Abbots House when it all happened. I remember it was September 11. They just threw me in prison.
“I had not turned up to a court hearing and the council accused me of being abusive. I was terrified.
“When I was in that jail, it made me feel worse because I knew what it must have felt like for dad. I knew exactly how he felt.
“I should never have been sent to prison, it was totally wrong. My dad didn’t know where I was. When I came out he wanted to know why I hadn’t bothered to see him for so long.
“The first two days I was there I cried my eyes out. The prison officers spoke to me like I was a bit of dirt, like I was a hardened criminal.
“Because I was the only civil prisoner in there, they said they didn’t know what to do with me. They kept me locked up alone most of the time.
“They said I wasn’t allowed to speak to the public, because of the court order. I wanted to ring up for a solicitor and my MP.
“I wasn’t even allowed to ring my family. I couldn’t even tell my dad I was in jail – he thought I’d forgotten about him.
“It was such a relief when I managed to get out.”
John was first diagnosed with dementia and admitted to Stadium Court nursing home in Stoke-on-Trent in April 2010.
The retired painter and decorator was then transferred to Trentside Manor in Stoke in August 2010 and then Park Hall in the same town in November 2010.
After she was released from prison, Wanda and her family continued their efforts to get their father out of care.
But they were unsuccessful and John died aged 80 in January this year.
A spokesman for Stoke-on-Trent City Council insisted the correct procedures were followed.
He said: “Our chief concern was always centred around the welfare of Miss Maddocks’ father, who was suffering from a deteriorating condition and required 24-hour supervision in a stable environment.”