Former judge's wife seemed lucid to police officer, fraud trial told

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 April, 2006, 12:00am

An 80-year-old woman said by her lawyer to be mentally unfit to stand trial on welfare fraud charges gave clear and immediate answers in an interview with police lasting more than two hours, a court heard yesterday.

Lucille Yun Shim Jackson-Lipkin 'was clear, could answer questions I put to her and was able to react clearly', said Senior Inspector Janet So Man-kuen, who conducted the interview in February.

Andrew Bullet, for the former barrister, who has been charged along with her husband, retired High Court judge Miles Henry Jackson-Lipkin, 81, is seeking a stay of prosecution on the grounds that she cannot clearly instruct counsel for the defence.

The couple jointly face two charges of not fully disclosing their personal assets when applying for social welfare and public housing in 2003 and 2004.

They are also accused of attempting to make false representation in applying for medical appliance aid.

Kowloon City Court is hearing an application for a stay of proceedings against Lucille Jackson-Lipkin, who, according to Mr Bullet, is unfit to stand trial because she is incapable of giving sensible instructions to her lawyer.

A 20-minute excerpt from the interview with Inspector So, shown in court yesterday, showed Lucille Jackson-Lipkin affirming her own legal rights and reading her identity card number aloud to the officer.

She kept reiterating that the assets mentioned in the couple's joint application for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance on September 10, 2003, were 'correct', 'truthful' and that she told no lies.

But she said she could not 'remember or be sure' about the details of the conversation between her and the social welfare officer.

The defendant told the police officer she held three local bank accounts, including a joint account with a $120,000 overdraft.

But she denied holding any bank account held in foreign countries.

'We have no assets to handle,' she responded to an inquiry into whether she looked after her own bank account.

'I didn't lie to you, I am just muddled!'

The officer then asked her about a telegram transfer, after their CSSA application, from her husband's British bank account but she said she did not know about that.

Before the trial started at 10am, Mr Bullet applied to adjourn the case to the afternoon because 'Mrs Jackson-Lipkin was sick last night and she could not give me instructions'.

Chief Magistrate Patrick Li Hon-leung rejected the application, asking: 'Did you say she gives you instructions?'

The defence has produced a psychiatric report concluding that Lucille Jackson-Lipkin suffers from moderate dementia and severe depression.

But a report from the prosecution's psychiatrist said she suffered from 'very mild' elderly dementia with an adjustment disorder and a depressive mood, which could have arisen from the legal proceedings and the couple's financial burden.

The defence and prosecution will start making their submissions on Monday.