The rights and personal interests of an eccentric hoarder were "ignored and disregarded" by the State Administrative Tribunal during proceedings that stripped the 80-year-old Bentley woman of control over her property and finances, a Supreme Court judgment has found.
In a decision handed down this week that is scathing of the tribunal's flawed procedures in three separate decisions about the woman's case, Justice Eric Heenan quashed the SAT's guardianship and administration orders.
After the orders were imposed, the woman's house was demolished and her land sold against her wishes. She was placed in a residence where she did not want to live at a cost of $450,000 - paid for with money taken from her estate - and her lifetime's possessions were destroyed or lost.
Justice Heenan said the woman, identified only as Ms S, was in urgent need of legal advice and had a right to compensation or restitution for property that had been lost or reduced in value as a result of erroneous proceedings. Concerns about the woman's ability to make decisions about her living and financial arrangements were raised after she was admitted to Bentley Hospital in October 2009.
Ms S, whose mode of living was described by Justice Heenan as eccentric, lived alone in a house that was dilapidated and cluttered to such an extent it had become infested by vermin. The electricity had been disconnected.
The house was deemed unfit for habitation in January 2010.
In December 2009, a social worker at Bentley Hospital lodged an application for guardianship and administration orders that alleged Ms S had impaired executive functioning and was unable to make decisions in relation to her home repairs and living arrangements.Justice Heenan found that the hearing which imposed the orders in February 2010, a second hearing that expanded the administrator's powers over her estate and a review of her case had not granted her procedural fairness and there was no proof that she had the mental disability required for the appointment of an administrator.
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