A "lovestruck, elderly man" accused of abducting his 84-year-old partner of 15 years from a care facility in Mandurah pleaded guilty in Perth Magistrates Court today.
Ralph 'Terry' Gibbs, 80, made his way into the courtroom dressed in a checked shirt and using a crutch to help him as he walked.
Mr Gibbs initially faced charges of deprivation of liberty and endangering life, health or safety of another for taking his long-term partner Carol Lisle from Mercy Place Mandurah and attempting to drive her back to his Queensland home.
The charges were replaced with one count of unlawful custody of persons suffering from a mental disorder, to which he had pleaded guilty in front of magistrate Raelene Johnston.
The court heard that on January 2 Mr Gibbs and Ms Lisle were having lunch together in a communal living space at Mercy Place when the nurses were distracted with another patient.
In what Mr Gibb's defence lawyer described as a "poorly thought out plan" Mr Gibbs removed Ms Lisle and put her into his car before leaving with her around 1.30pm.
The prosecution alleged that Mr Gibbs had intended to take Ms Lisle, buying a car two days prior, as well as 11 fuel cans.
The court heard that while the pair were on the road, a witness had contact with Mr Gibbs at about 10pm on January 2 who claimed Mr Gibbs seemed disoriented and unsure of where he came from.
Another witness claimed to see Ms Lisle in a parked car at Woolworths Kalgoorlie while Mr Gibbs was inside the store.
Concerned about the heat and the appearance of Ms Lisle, they approached her to speak with her.
The court heard the witness urged Mr Gibbs take Ms Lisle to hospital but instead he asked for directions to the next town and left in the car.
Police caught up with Mr Gibbs and Ms Lisle in Warakurna on January 4 and found Ms Lisle in a distressed condition, leaning over and needing medical attention.
She was in the same clothing as the day she was taken from Mercy Place - a long-sleeved black and white shirt and long, black pants.
The prosecution argued that Mr Gibbs was not equipped for the journey, the car was inappropriate and there was not enough fuel.
The court heard the car smelt strongly of urine and Mr Gibbs had reportedly said he had not slept since the night of January 1.
Defence lawyer Matthew Blackburn said Mr Gibbs believed Ms Lisle was in "poor living conditions" before moving to Mercy Place, when she was first brought to WA by her goddaughter.
Mr Blackburn said his client had alleged Ms Lisle was living in a "tin shed" type property in rural Mandurah.
Mr Blackburn said Mr Gibbs had wanted to bring Ms Lisle home to their property in Queensland, but had not intended to do so until he visited her.
Ms Lisle had told Mr Gibbs she wanted to "get out of here", he said.
Mr Blackburn said that while it did not excuse his actions, Mr Gibbs was a "lovestruck, elderly man" who executed a "poorly thought out plan".
He added that Mr Gibbs now accepted that he needed to move on and move back to Queensland.
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Mr Blackburn said Mr Gibbs had no previous record in Australia and his actions were "out of character".
On top of the potential sentence, Mr Blackburn said his client would have to "deal with not contacting Ms Lisle" as a restraining order was in place.
The prosecution said the car and fuel purchases indicated that Mr Gibbs had intended to take Ms Lisle prior to the incident, and that while he was unlikely to reoffend, removing the victim while not prepared for the journey could've had "grave consequences".
The prosecution recommended a suspended sentence, stating the matter was "not trivial".
Magistrate Johnston said that in determining premeditation, the fact that the car and fuel was bought prior was "highly suggestive of having that intention".
She added that she had not had the opportunity to read a letter from Mr Gibbs' daughter which could speak to his psychological state.
Magistrate Johnston adjourned the matter until February 18. His bail was renewed.
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