Judge orders home, run by a doctor, to release 81-year-old man

Kirk Ruthven Noel -
Kirk Ruthven Noel -

POLICE were forced late Friday night, during curfew hours, to try to remove an 81-year-old Maracas, St Joseph, man from a private senior assisted home in Maraval after a High Court judge ordered his immediate removal from the facility.

They were unable to secure his release on Friday night, but Newsday understands at about 12 noon on Saturday, the director of the senior care facility called the police informing them that the man was allowed to walk out of the home on his own.

The home is run by a senior doctor who once held a senior government position.

Attorneys for Kirk Ruthven Noel accompanied the police, on Friday night, to remove the man they said was being held against his will at the home.

Earlier on Friday, Justice Robin Mohammed issued a writ of habeas corpus to compel the home’s director to justify Noel’s detention at the facility since June 24.

After the doctor and Noel’s family failed to respond to the writ, the judge, just after 6 pm, ordered the man’s immediate release. The court’s order was finalised at 9.42 pm, and attorneys, who had to call the police’s curfew hotline for clearance to go to the Maraval police station and the home, got there with officers at 10.45 pm but were unable to get to Noel.

The man is represented by attorneys Chase Pegus and Edisha Greene, both of Veritas Chambers in Port of Spain. In documents filed in support of the writ, Greene said they received a call from a friend of Noel’s who was concerned about his detention at the home. The attorneys called the cell phone number provided for him, and he told them he was being held there without his consent.

Noel had first been taken to another senior care facility in San Fernando on May 15, by a close relative who told him they would return for him. They did not.

On June 24, the director of the Maraval home went to the nursing home in San Fernando to retrieve Noel, telling him she wanted to take him the Queen’s Park Savannah to get his covid19 vaccine.

He got his shot and was then taken to the senior care home in Maraval, where he remained until noon on Saturday.

Noel has since been returned to his home in Maracas, St Joseph, with the assistance of a close friend.

Noel says he is perfectly capable of managing his own affairs.

On July 26, the attorneys said they tried to get access to Noel by visiting the facility but were denied. They also spoke to the director who admitted to not knowing of any court order to have him housed there.

She also told them, “I do not pick people off the streets.” A pre-action protocol letter was issued to the doctor on July 27, but there was no response to it, and later that day Noel told his attorneys he was feeling unwell and was in need of urgent medical attention.

Attempts were made to call his relatives but they went unanswered. The doctor also did not answer calls. Noel said he was fearful that attempts would be made to disconnect the service to his cellphone once it was discovered his lawyers had stepped in and sent the legal letter to the home.

His phone number was disconnected the next day, the lawsuit said.

On Friday, the attorneys called Noel’s relatives who said they were not in a position to speak with them. Another call was made to the doctor about Noel’s detention at the facility, but she said she was not speaking without her attorney, refusing to give details.

After these attempts to get a response to their client’s concerns, the attorneys filed the application for the writ of habeas corpus. The doctor was also informed of the virtual hearing at 6 pm, but did not attend the hearing.

Further attempts to serve the writ at the home were also thwarted since staff at the facility said they will not accept the documents.

After the virtual court hearing the judge ordered Noel’s immediate release.

Noel has now instructed his attorneys to file a report with the police as well as file a false imprisonment claim against the director of the care home.

In 2019, police were forced to rescue 69 men and women from an alleged rehabilitation centre in East Trinidad. Police said the 69 were all being held captive and most were in cages.

Criminal charges relating to the incident were filed and are pending in the courts.


"Judge orders home, run by a doctor, to release 81-year-old man"

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