A judge has given a 69-year-old woman with dementia who lives in a care home the go-ahead to have sex with another resident she has become attached to.

Mr Justice Poole said the woman is not mentally capable of deciding whether or not to marry the man, but is able to make decisions about ‘engagement in sexual relations’.

The senior judge outlined his decision in a ruling published on Friday after analysing evidence at a recent hearing in the Court of Protection, where issues relating to people who might lack the mental capacity to take decisions for themselves are considered.



He said it was regrettable that a delay in resolving the case had prevented the woman from ‘sharing intimacy’ with the man.

Council social services bosses with responsibility for the woman’s care had asked for rulings setting out what the woman was mentally capable of doing.

Mr Justice Poole, who also hears cases in the Family Division of the High Court, concluded that she lacked the mental capacity to make decisions about litigation, residence, care, financial affairs and property, and marriage.

He said evidence showed that she had ‘no idea’ what would happen to money and property after any divorce, and did not appear to understand that divorce may bring about a ‘financial claim’.

But he ruled that she did have the mental capacity to make decisions about ‘contact with others’ and ‘engagement in sexual relations’.

The judge said she had formed an attachment with a man in the care home and had ‘been consistent over many months’ about her ‘desire to have sexual relations’ with him.

He said the woman could not be identified in media reports of the case and has not identified the council involved.

Mr Justice Poole considered a report from a psychiatrist, who had interviewed the woman.

The psychiatrist explained, in his report, that the woman had a ‘blunt conversational style’.

He said he had apologised about asking ‘embarrassing questions’ but the woman had told him to ‘just get on and ask me the questions’.

The psychiatrist went on: ‘I asked whether she thought she was at risk of becoming pregnant.



‘She laughed and said “I’m too old. There’s just as much a chance of him becoming pregnant as me”, and laughed again.’

The psychiatrist said the woman had demonstrated a basic understanding of the ‘nature and mechanics of sexual intercourse’, as well as of consent.

He said she had also demonstrated that she was aware of the risk of sexually transmitted disease.

The expert went on: ‘She said, “I have never had it and I don’t want it”. Asked how she could protect herself, she said “by not having it”.

‘When asked what else could be done, she said, “wearing a condom”.’

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