Published: 11 January, 2013
by WILLIAM McLENNAN and SAM CREIGHTON
A SEVERELY disabled man was saved from being sent to prison after the High Court issued a last-minute extension of an injunction against University College London Hospitals on Tuesday. The hospital was served with an 11th-hour court order last week preventing the discharge of Daniel Roque Hall to Wormwood Scrubs prison. Supporters said Mr Hall, who has the rare degenerative condition Friedrich’s Ataxia, is in danger of dying he is sent back to the prison because staff there are not equipped to meet his 24-hour care needs.
The court heard UCLH believe Mr Hall is ready to be “discharged into the community”, but his family say that does not mean he is able to return to the medical wing of a prison. Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart extended the injunction until 6pm on Friday January 18 and a new hearing has been scheduled for earlier that day. Representing Mr Hall, Flo Krause told the court: “The claimant has always maintained that the prison cannot meet his medical and other needs. He is much frailer and much worse than when he was sentenced to prison. They [UCLH] have not been able to get him back to the state he was in when he was sent to prison.”
Mr Hall was rushed to hospital in August after his health deteriorated, but the court heard that his mother had been raising concerns about his health for weeks before. A medical report read in court said he was “significantly more frail than he was when submitted to Wormwood Scrubs” and had a “substantial increase” in the need for speech and language therapy and needs help swallowing to prevent choking when he drinks. Mr Hall pleaded guilty to smuggling 2.8kg of cocaine out of Peru in February last year and was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison in July. The court heard he had could not have acted alone and may have been “groomed” online. His family want him to see out his sentence “tagged at home.”
Anne Hall, Mr Hall’s mother, said outside court: “The judge understood it was a very complex situation and in recognition of the fragility of his health he’s given us time to safeguard his life. “Obviously the judge has highlighted that this is a problem with the prison. It’s nothing to do with the hospital care, it’s to do with the prison and can it be trusted. My answer is that it’s not safe and it cannot be trusted so he should come home with whatever conditions a court feel should be put on him. Because he’s already suffered disproportionately and he’s very fragile.”
Protesters, including CND co-founder Bruce Kent, staged a demonstration outside the Royal Courts of Justice before the hearing and held placards that read “no death sentence for Daniel Roque”. Anita Castelino, 26, who was in Mr Roque Hall’s care team 18 months ago, said: “If he goes back to prison he will very likely die, after seven weeks of a three year sentence he was rushed straight into intensive care, it is very likely he would die and no one is allowed to administer a death sentence.”