A woman who was accused of kidnapping an elderly dementia patient from a Melbourne nursing home pleaded not guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.
52 year old Irene Moschones, was allegedly caught on camera wheeling 97 year old grandmother and World War II survivor Dimitra Pavlopoulu out through the entrance of the Clarinda Manor Nursing Home in January of this year.
Ms Pavlopoulu, who was suffering from dementia, was missing for over six hours before she was found lying on a mattress at the Cheltenham home of Ms Moschones. And she unfortunately passed away 6 weeks after the ordeal.
Doctor Vicki Kim, assessed Ms Moschones after she was taken into custody, and remarked that she had the symptoms of a psychiatric illness, and that she was paranoid about a group of relatives having possibly faked her mother’s death.
Police told the court that upon speaking with Ms Moschones she communicated that she believed that Ms Pavlopoulou was in-fact her mother, and that her relatives had faked the death of her own mother years earlier for monetary gain.
Police were alerted to the whereabouts of Ms Pavlopoulu by the accused’s ex-husband who tended a statement to the court explaining that Ms Moschones was unwilling to accept the death of her mother, and that she had taken him to a nursing home on a previous occasion to meet another woman who she felt was her mother.
Prosecutor Stephen Devlin told the court that Ms Moschones was of the belief that Ms Pavlopoulo “was her mum,” but also stated that Ms Moschones “was quite coherent,” and that she was also “fine and easy to talk to.”
The court heard that investigators were unable to obtain a statement from Ms Pavlopoulou before her death, because her family was worried that it might upset her health.
The accused responded to these sentiments by rolling her eyes and laughing, remarkingly shortly after that, “she was going to die anyway.”
Mr Devlin remarked that the evidence is clear that the accused had a strong desire to find a person that she thought was her mother, telling the court, “the psychological advantage was the benefit”.
Social worker Dorothy Lockhart told the court that when she arrived at the house during the ordeal, she asked Ms Moschones if she had permission to have Ms Pavlopoulou at her home.
Ms Moschones replied that she did, but she refused to tell Ms Lockhart the name of the nursing home where she lived so she could ring and confirm.
Ms Lockhart then told Ms Moschones she would have to call the police.
“She said I should go ahead, as ‘the police knew all about my mother’,” Ms Lockhart told the court.
The court heard that Ms Pavlopoulu communicated in Greek and spoke very few words of english, her dementia had also worsened in the years leading up to the kidnapping, and that she would sometimes not recognise family members.
Ms Moschones’ defence lawyer told Magistrate Belinda Wallington that the charge of statutory kidnap should be thrown out, due to the fact that Ms Moschones may have actually believed that Ms Pavlopoulu was consenting to being taken.
The accused was told to surrender her passport as part of her bail conditions, but was overheard arguing with her lawyer and saying, ‘this is a joke,’ before communicating that if the court wanted her passport that they could get it from her storage facility.
This case is now headed for trial in a County Court
The photo used in this article is courtesy of 9 News