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Woman wrongly kept in mental hospital for 70 years - for stealing two shillings
Daily Mail ^

Posted on 09/28/2007 9:44:34 AM PDT by UKrepublican

Woman wrongly kept in mental hospital for 70 years - for stealing two shillings

The brothers of a woman locked up for 70 years after being wrongly accused of stealing 13 pence have spoken of their emotional reunion with the sister they thought was dead.

Jean Gambell, 85, was just 15 when she was sectioned indefinitely in 1937 over claims she stole the money - two shillings and six pence - while working as a cleaner in a doctor's surgery.

The money was eventually found - but by then she was lost to the system in a maze of different institutions.

Her family thought she had died years ago until one of her brothers, David Gambell, read a questionnaire sent by a care home which was addressed to his mother.

Thinking it was simply an advertising pamphlet, Mr Gambell was about to throw it away when he saw his sister's name written in tiny writing on the top corner of the page.

It suddenly became clear that the sister he thought was dead was still alive. He rang the care home and was told straight away that his sister was there.

"It was a pretty emotional moment," Mr Gambell said. "When I got off the phone I called the rest of my family and they were as stunned as I was.

"We had no idea that our sister who had been lost to the system before I was born was still alive."

Mr Gambell and his 66-year-old brother Alan, who both live in the Wirral in Cheshire, made arrangements to visit her. Although the pair had been on visits to see their sister when they were children, staff at Warwick Mews in Macclesfield warned them she was deaf and may not remember them.

David said: "We were very nervous. We had a bunch of flowers and wrote on a piece of card 'Hello Jean, we're your brothers'.

"They brought her in and she took one look at us and said: 'Hello Alan, hello David', and flung her arms around us. It was a special moment and one that will live with me forever."

Two weeks after their visit in July Miss Gamble suffered a stroke, thought to have been cause by the emotional stress of the reunion.

She is currently receiving treatment in a heart ward in a Macclesfield hospital and is making good progress.

The saga began in 1937 when she was accused of stealing the money from the doctor's surgery where she worked as a cleaner.

Allegations of theft led doctors to describe her as someone "of feeble mind" and ordered her to be detained indefinitely in Cranage Hall in Crewe.

After her original detention, she was moved to numerous care homes across the north-west of England, making it hard for the family to stay in touch.

And when the brothers lost their mother 25 years ago, the final link to their sister was lost.

David said: "Nowadays there are reviews and appeals, but back then a doctor could sign away a life with the stroke of a pen - it's a terrible waste.

"Jean even thanked us for the flowers and the presents we gave her. It's incredible, after all this time there was no hint of bitterness.

"After she suffered the stroke Alan blamed himself for causing it - but I think we would have felt worse if we had discovered our sister was still alive and had done nothing to try and see her again."

Alan's memories of his sister are from visiting times at care homes when he was a child.

"We were not even born in 1937 when Jean was put away but I do remember her being brought to us by two wardens when we were young," he said.

"Soon though, we lost contact. We have now found out that Jean had tried to explain what had happened to staff at various institutions, but the things she was saying to the staff had been dismissed as figments of her imagination.

"We now know she was telling the truth. The old Victorian house she claimed to have lived in did exist. But when officials went to find it, all they saw was a 1960s apartment block. Our old family home had been bulldozed - but it was there once."

A spokesman for Cheshire County Council said the case was being investigated.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: uk
UK Ping list - if you would like on or off, freepmail me.

1 posted on 09/28/2007 9:44:40 AM PDT by UKrepublican
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To: Tribune7; SoCalPol; Lil'freeper; mrsmel; wideawake; chasio649; expatpat; HanneyBean; goose; ...

PING


2 posted on 09/28/2007 9:45:29 AM PDT by UKrepublican
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To: UKrepublican

Unbelievable.


3 posted on 09/28/2007 9:46:51 AM PDT by expatpat
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To: UKrepublican

Kafkaesque


4 posted on 09/28/2007 9:48:52 AM PDT by Smogger (It's the WOT Stupid)
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To: UKrepublican

how very sad. Someone threw away a person, over a few bits of money.


5 posted on 09/28/2007 9:50:15 AM PDT by hoe_cake
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To: UKrepublican

Dear Lord. So often we do not comprehend what wonderful lives we have been blessed with. All of a sudden my job, the kids homework, and my boss are not so bad.


6 posted on 09/28/2007 9:50:23 AM PDT by SF Republican
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To: UKrepublican

Wow!


7 posted on 09/28/2007 9:51:57 AM PDT by caver (Yes, I did crawl out of a hole in the ground.)
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To: SF Republican

Absolutely. Certainly makes you think.


8 posted on 09/28/2007 9:54:40 AM PDT by UKrepublican
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To: UKrepublican

I’m not going to jump to Dickensian conclusions here. Undoubtedly what was done to her was grossly unfair but I get the distinct impression she IS mentally retarded. Would a person of normal brain wattage have been so easily kept institutionalized for decades if she was of normally sound mind and didn’t want to be there? Would her parents so readily given her up to the system if they thought she didn’t belong there?


9 posted on 09/28/2007 9:56:02 AM PDT by sinanju
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To: UKrepublican

What can you say, just one more example of what happens with government in control.


10 posted on 09/28/2007 9:56:19 AM PDT by driftdiver
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To: Smogger
Kafkaesque

That's exactly the word for it....

Though one might also suspect that there's a bit more to the story ... like, perhaps, she really was/is nuts, and the missing money was just (mistakenly) the final straw that led to her being institutionalized.

11 posted on 09/28/2007 9:56:49 AM PDT by r9etb
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To: UKrepublican

Amazing! Can anyone possibly imagine the horrors this woman went through by being wrongly locked up? I can’t.


12 posted on 09/28/2007 9:57:15 AM PDT by lilylangtree (Veni, Vidi, Vici)
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To: UKrepublican

Unbelieveable. And at the other extreme, here in the States, the mentally ill are dumped on the streets.


13 posted on 09/28/2007 9:57:46 AM PDT by TexasRepublic (Afghan protest - "Death to Dog Washers!")
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To: expatpat
No, not unbelievable - just very British.

I thought Russians had invented bureaucrats, the French refined them and the British raised it to an art form.

Read the book “Hitch hikers guide to the Galaxy” a very long satire of the British bureaucratic system.

14 posted on 09/28/2007 9:59:52 AM PDT by ASOC (Yeah, well, maybe - but can you *prove* it?)
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To: UKrepublican

What a shame! I sincerely hope that this poor woman was able to find a measure of happiness in the life she was locked in.


15 posted on 09/28/2007 10:01:22 AM PDT by pgkdan (Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions - G.K. Chesterton)
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To: UKrepublican

Some day, with the correct leadership, HillaryCare can provide us many such examples like this.


16 posted on 09/28/2007 10:02:24 AM PDT by theDentist (Qwerty ergo typo : I type, therefore I misspelll.)
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To: UKrepublican

On the bright side, after 20 years she went nuts anyway.


17 posted on 09/28/2007 10:03:34 AM PDT by waverna
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To: sinanju

In our country, if you are not a public threat (sadly, sometimes if you are) you are released into society.

There is no excuse for this.


18 posted on 09/28/2007 10:03:51 AM PDT by UKrepublican
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To: UKrepublican
Positively medieval.

I don't think I've ever heard of a worse travesty.

19 posted on 09/28/2007 10:09:40 AM PDT by The KG9 Kid
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To: UKrepublican

“Lost contact.”
Gee, guys, did it roll under the sofa maybe?
No wonder she’s not bitter. Losing such indifferent family members is no great loss.


20 posted on 09/28/2007 10:12:35 AM PDT by 668 - Neighbor of the Beast (Write. Phone. Fax. Demand answers. Demand questions!!)
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To: driftdiver
You have that right! I vote against Big Government every time I can. No to government run anything!
21 posted on 09/28/2007 10:15:44 AM PDT by 2001convSVT ("People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence")
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To: UKrepublican

I would expect the guilty parties are all dead by now.


22 posted on 09/28/2007 10:17:30 AM PDT by PAR35
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To: 668 - Neighbor of the Beast
Losing such indifferent family members is no great loss.

Any guesses as to what went on in England between 1939 and 1945?

And did you miss this? "she was moved to numerous care homes across the north-west of England"? It's a technique used in the federal prison system here to break contact between the prisoner and his family as a punitive measure. The slang term is 'diesel therapy'.

23 posted on 09/28/2007 10:22:24 AM PDT by PAR35
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To: UKrepublican

For every one kept wrongly, there are a dozen who are NOT being kept but who SHOULD be. I mean, we’ve got Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Cynthia McKinney, Barbara Boxer, Rosie O’Donnell, ...


24 posted on 09/28/2007 10:23:48 AM PDT by IronJack (=)
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To: UKrepublican

BMFLR.

There was a Barney Miller episode similar to this, but that was a comedy and this is deadly serious abuse of authority.


25 posted on 09/28/2007 10:30:41 AM PDT by Kevmo (We should withdraw from Iraq via Tehran. And Duncan Hunter is just the man to get that job done.)
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To: 668 - Neighbor of the Beast

Well, there was this little thing called WWII that might have gotten in the way. Little thing liked bombed buildings, burned records, unrecorded evacuations, etc...

Just saying...


26 posted on 09/28/2007 10:38:40 AM PDT by Comstock1 (If it's a miracle, Colour Sergeant, it's a short chamber Boxer Henry point 45 caliber miracle.)
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To: TexasRepublic
Unbelieveable. And at the other extreme, here in the States, the mentally ill are dumped on the streets.

Thanks to the ACLU.
27 posted on 09/28/2007 10:43:24 AM PDT by 109ACS (Humpty Dumpty was pushed!)
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To: UKrepublican

Find the grave pf the doctor who put her there, dig up his bones, smash them, and then throw them in the garbage for dogs and rodents to gnaw on.


28 posted on 09/28/2007 11:01:13 AM PDT by Clock King (Bring the noise!)
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To: UKrepublican
Read something or saw on TV once about a guy who’d been charged with a violent crime and had successfully plead insanity to avoid prison time. Was all happy and such until someone informed him at the mental institution that when doing prison time your sentence has a definite end. In a mental hospital they can keep you as long as they want.
29 posted on 09/28/2007 11:16:55 AM PDT by scan59 (Let consumers dictate market policies. Government just gets in the way.)
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To: what_not2007

A class system in operation. Truth is usually the victim if the accused is of a “lower” class. Typically British.


30 posted on 09/28/2007 11:20:20 AM PDT by A Strict Constructionist (We have become an oligarchy not a Republic.)
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To: TexasRepublic

“the mentally ill are dumped on the streets.”

You can thank the lawyers and the liberals for that.


31 posted on 09/28/2007 11:21:26 AM PDT by A Strict Constructionist (We have become an oligarchy not a Republic.)
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To: UKrepublican

Lost ‘in the system’ for 70 years?

Tell me again about the ‘wonderful’ system of socialized medicine....(eyes rolling)


32 posted on 09/28/2007 11:24:31 AM PDT by Badeye (Wee willie asston reece, the fraud of NYC)
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To: A Strict Constructionist

and the British are suppose to be so proper.


33 posted on 09/28/2007 11:25:13 AM PDT by hoe_cake
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To: Badeye

This was before the NHS.


34 posted on 09/28/2007 11:26:30 AM PDT by UKrepublican
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To: what_not2007

If you haven’t done anything wrong you have nothing to worry about.


35 posted on 09/28/2007 11:26:39 AM PDT by krb (If you're not outraged, people probably like having you around.)
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To: Badeye

At least the initial injustice......


36 posted on 09/28/2007 11:26:57 AM PDT by UKrepublican
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To: UKrepublican

Did the UK have socialized medical care in 1937?


37 posted on 09/28/2007 11:29:18 AM PDT by Navy Patriot (The hyphen American with the loudest whine gets the grease.)
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To: UKrepublican
“...a doctor could sign away a life with the stroke of a pen.”

Just think how much better off the country would be if Ted had received the lobotomy, instead of his poor sister!

38 posted on 09/28/2007 11:30:44 AM PDT by G Larry (HILLARY CARE = DYING IN LINE!)
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To: UKrepublican

How long has NHS had her bouncing around in the system then?

Too long, obviously.

Private medical doesn’t make that kind of mistake, if for no other reason than profit margins.


39 posted on 09/28/2007 11:35:05 AM PDT by Badeye (Wee willie asston reece, the fraud of NYC)
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To: A Strict Constructionist
Actually, this happened in the USA until as late as the 1970s, maybe later in some states-to women. See Ann Jones' Women Who Kill : Seems that if a man and a woman (e.g) committed a bank robbery together and were caught, tried, and convicted, the man might get an imposedsentence of 3-5 years. But the woman might be in prison 20 years later. It was believed that women were "more susceptible" to rehabilitation methods, and so they were given 'indeterminate' or 'indefinite' sentences that could keep them locked up for decades (again, for crimes that might get a man only a few years), till they showed the responses the parole board thought all people with two XX chromosomes and a womb "should" show automatically.
40 posted on 09/28/2007 11:36:17 AM PDT by Verloona Ti
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To: UKrepublican

See my comment above. What was done to this woman is beyond vile-truly evil. But I suspect(certainly *hope*) that this was a unique atrocity , and that few such events occurred in the UK. But who knows how many women in those states in the US that used gender-specific undetermined sentences were held for years or even decades, for offenses that saw their male accomplices released in a few short years or maybe even months?


41 posted on 09/28/2007 11:47:19 AM PDT by Verloona Ti
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To: krb

“If you haven’t done anything wrong you have nothing to worry about.”

You did read this line? Right?

“The money was eventually found - but by then she was lost to the system in a maze of different institutions.”

She didn’t steal anything!!

The doctor misplaced it and still left the girl committed to a life of institutionalism.


42 posted on 09/28/2007 12:36:34 PM PDT by Bigh4u2 (Denial is the first requirement to be a liberal)
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To: PAR35; Comstock1

I’m not buying. War’s been over 62 years. If they’d been at all motivated, they’d have looked for her, or her grave, and they’d have found her quick enough.


43 posted on 09/28/2007 12:38:39 PM PDT by 668 - Neighbor of the Beast (Write. Phone. Fax. Demand answers. Demand questions!!)
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To: Bigh4u2

I was being extremely sarcastic.


44 posted on 09/28/2007 12:43:29 PM PDT by krb (If you're not outraged, people probably like having you around.)
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To: Verloona Ti

Many Victorian attitudes still remain and they have nothing to do with morality or logic.


45 posted on 09/28/2007 7:03:01 PM PDT by A Strict Constructionist (We have become an oligarchy not a Republic.)
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To: krb

“I was being extremely sarcastic.”

ummmm...Ok.

:0|


46 posted on 09/29/2007 7:30:26 AM PDT by Bigh4u2 (Denial is the first requirement to be a liberal)
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To: UKrepublican

Dang! I thought this was about Ted Kennedy’s sister.


47 posted on 09/29/2007 7:38:37 AM PDT by rabidralph
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To: UKrepublican
Appalling.

In the Good Old Days she'd have merely been shipped to Australia.

48 posted on 09/29/2007 7:49:28 AM PDT by Leroy S. Mort
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To: UKrepublican
"This was before the NHS."

In the beginning, yes. But nobody in the NHS ever bothered to review her case in the years since. The NHS was instituted in the 1950s, I think. So there were a lot of years when she was in custody of the NHS and trying to get some help, and nobody did anything effective to help her.

49 posted on 10/21/2007 8:49:59 PM PDT by Irene Adler (')
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