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A man in Australia took his 84-year-old partner from her nursing home and fled across the outback.
Ralph 'Terry' Gibbs, 80, sprung Carol Lisle - who has dementia and Parkinson's disease - from a nursing facility in Mandurah, near Perth, on 4 January, before attempting to drive across the country to their home in Queensland - a distance of about 3,000 miles.
But police caught up with the couple two days later deep in the desert, around 90 kilometres from the Northern Territory border.
Languishing in 43°C heat, wheelchair user Lisle was reportedly found distressed, smelling of urine, and wearing the same clothes as when she was taken.
She was subsequently airlifted to Perth for treatment.
Builder Gibbs said his 'little sweetheart' Lisle had initially been taken to Perth by her goddaughter last year while he was recovering from an illness in Cairns Hospital, and he just wanted to get her back home.
He was initially charged with deprivation of liberty and endangering Lisle's life, but on 9 February he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of unlawful detention.
Appearing in Perth magistrates court yesterday (Friday 18 February), Gibbs said he was 'acting out of love', and magistrate Raelene Johnston said sentencing him was not an 'easy exercise', as it was clear he wanted nothing more than to be with his partner of 15 years.
However, she added that his actions were 'entirely misguided'.
She said: "I accept that you believe you were acting out of love and that you were acting out of care for your partner and that you wanted to be with her, and you believed that she wanted to be with you.
"But objectively your conduct was extremely dangerous, and the objective seriousness of your offending was made clear by the reactions of those people who observed you."
Johnston added that his offence was premeditated, as he had bought a car, jerry cans of petrol and a map of Australia in the days prior.
She continued: "You placed your personal desire over the welfare of your partner.
"You continued to place your wishes above her needs. You must have known you were struggling to look after her, yet you continued on your journey.
"Your conduct could have compromised her health. Given the extremely remote location you were found in."
Gibbs' lawyer said a fine would be appropriate, and while Johnston acknowledged that he had no previous convictions, she said a jail sentence needed to be imposed to reflect the seriousness of the crime.
He was sentenced to seven months' jail, suspended for 12 months, and a two-year restraining order means he fears he may never see Lisle again.
Speaking outside of court, he said: "I have been fighting for a year to get her back so we can see each other because she has dementia and may not last much longer."
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