Blind Second World War veteran battles to leave care facility and go home

A blind 97-year-old Second World War veteran is battling to persuade a High Court judge to let him leave a care facility and end his life at home.

Mr Justice Hayden began analysing detailed evidence relating to former Royal Navy gunner Douglas Meyers, who lives near Southend, Essex, at a public trial in the Family Division of the High Court on Monday.

The judge has left his base in London and is overseeing the hearing in a Southend courtroom normally used by magistrates so that Mr Meyers can attend.

Mr Meyers, who served in the Italian and north African theatres during the 1940s, arrived at Monday’s hearing in a wheelchair and sat at the front of the court holding a row of campaign medals.

Douglas Meyers
Douglas Meyers

He has already lost two rounds of his fight.

Mr Justice Hayden, who has overseen earlier hearings in London, refused to allow him to go home for Christmas.

The judge said he had safety concerns and that the pensioner’s life could be at risk.

He said all evidence and care options had to be analysed before he would consider letting Mr Meyers leave the care facility.

A Court of Appeal judge refused to overturn that ruling at a subsequent Court of Appeal hearing in London.

Social services bosses at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council have welfare responsibility for Mr Meyers and lawyers representing the council have asked the judge to make a decision about what is in the veteran’s best interests.

Two lawyers – barrister Parishil Patel QC and solicitor Laura Hobey-Hamsher, who works for law firm Bindmans – are representing the pensioner for free.

Both sets of lawyers agree that Mr Meyers, a widower who turns 98 in March, has the mental capacity to make decisions.

Mr Meyers has spoken to Mr Justice Hayden via a telephone link to the court room at earlier hearings.

He told the judge that he wanted to end his life at home, said he could look after himself and that he would get help from a relative.

Mr Meyers said he was unhappy at the care facility.

The judge has described Mr Meyers as an “extraordinary man”.