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A 92-YEAR-OLD widow was left feeling she would be “better off dead” after the Home Office callously ordered her deportation to South Africa, medical evidence revealed yesterday.
Myrtle Cothill’s “removal” was set to take place this week, but new medical reports proving her frailty have won the grandmother a brief reprieve.
As previously reported by the Star, Ms Cothill has lived with her British daughter Mary Wills since 2014 and has no-one left to take care of her in South Africa.
But the Home Office showed no compassion when her six-month visitor’s visa expired, ordering that she must return to Johannesburg to renew it.
Senior psychiatrist Dr Benjamin Robinson, of Maudsley Hospital in South London, has now diagnosed her with clinical depression and severe anxiety linked to the threat of deportation.
He noted that Ms Cothill’s condition was so bad, she “has begun to think she would be better off dead, but has not made plans to kill herself because she is a religious person and this would go against God’s will.”
Dr Robinson also added that her removal would put her life at risk, with the the widow’s health expected to deteriorate rapidly in the three months following deportation.
“Ms Cothill’s mental state would rapidly decline, and this would be irreversible due to the relative ineffectiveness of anti-depressants in those severely depressed in her age group and due to the causes of her depression,” the psychiatrist explained.
“As a result, her self-care would continue to decline, including loss of appetite, loss of food intake and further weight loss, and she would be very likely to die more quickly as a result.”
Prime Minister David Cameron’s government changed immigration laws back in 2012, scrapping rules that allowed parents and grandparents over the age of 65 to join their families in Britain as elderly dependants.
Ms Cothill’s barrister Jan Doerfel argued that her removal would not only breach European human rights law but also raised the question of possible “inhuman and degrading treatment.”
If her new appeal is declined and her application for leave to remain refused, Ms Cothill will again face deportation.
Her case has provoked a storm of public protest, with Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and TV presenter Piers Morgan among those condemning the Home Office’s stance.
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