In a hearing this morning at Southwark Crown Court, Sabine McNeill’s legal team was unable to persuade HHJ Deborah Taylor to grant their client bail on medical grounds.
Sabine, who did not appear in person, had been claiming that she was effectively immobilised and unable to walk after her Nordic ski poles were confiscated by officials at Bronzefield Prison. However, prison medical staff eventually supplied her with a pair of crutches, which appeared to do the trick.
Arguments by Sabine’s barrister and a medical expert witness that Sabine’s hip condition could flare up at any time and require surgery were countered with the observation that in the 45 years since the original hip injury, no surgery had ever been required, and that Sabine seemed to manage quite well by way of her Nordic ski poles or crutches.
In any event, if it were determined that hip surgery was needed, the NHS wait list for such procedures is approximately a year, so there would be no reason to grant bail on these grounds.
Sabine had also complained that her chronic gallbladder condition was going untreated at the prison. However, during the hearing it became clear that Sabine had twice refused the conventional treatment for gallstones—laparoscopic surgery—and that she had insisted on treating the condition via “natural” methods.
The judge ruled that Sabine ought to have two scans—one for her hip and one for her gallbladder—and that medical treatment should be carried out by in-prison medical personnel.
Sabine’s brief mentioned to the court that Sabine had been visited by representatives from the German Embassy, but this appeared to make little impression.
However, HHJ Taylor did note that a 19 November trial date seemed unnecessarily far in the future, and said that it should be changed to an earlier date, possibly during the summer, if at all possible. A decision should be forthcoming on this issue within the next couple of weeks.