The Court of Protection hearing  at the Royal Courts of Justice has been described as 'truly exceptional'
The Court of Protection hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice has been described as \'truly exceptional\'

A man with learning difficulties could become the first person in the UK to have a vasectomy ordered by a judge to stop him having more children.

The 36-year-old man, known only as DE, already has a young son with his girlfriend, who also has learning difficulties.

DE has said he does not want any more children, but does not have the mental capacity to use contraception.

The Court of Protection heard how the birth of the man's son had caused him anxiety and distress and left him in "absolute turmoil". The court heard how if the couple had another child, it would be "inevitable" that it would be taken into care and cause them further distress.

Angus Moon QC, appointed to represent DE's best interests, told the Telegraph the "truly exceptional case" could make history when the ruling is handed down later this month.

"It would be the first judgment in this jurisdiction in which permission had been given to carry out a vasectomy," he said.

He added: "This case is not about a youngish man being given a vasectomy against his will.

"The evidence is compelling that (DE) does want to have a vasectomy and therefore this case is not covered by the shadow of eugenics."

Moon said it is "unusual" that two people with learning difficulties are able to maintain a relationship of more than 10 years like DE and his girlfriend.

Moon reiterated that having a second child would cause greater emotional stress for the pair.

DE's parents fear that his girlfriend may want another child and that he would be "the only candidate" to be the father.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr David Milnes added: "The events leading up to and following the birth of the child were very difficult for him.

"He initially denied he was the boy's father and refused to acknowledge that link. I think another child would cause him significant distress, more so if he is blamed if the baby is taken from (its mother)."

DE has in essence been banned from having sex since last November, when a court order declared he does not have the mental capacity to have a consensual relationship.

This means any woman who does have sex with him could be charged with sexual abuse or rape. All visits with his girlfriend must also be constantly supervised in order to "keep him safe".

This order is expected to be overturned as DE feels it has caused him to lose his independence and cause added distress.

The court heard that DE did value his relationship with his son and is allowed to play with him for up to an hour a day. He also said his relationship with is daughter is the uttermost importance to him, which a judge said they will take into consideration when the ruling is made.

This is only the second time an application has been made for the sterilisation of a man. The first, involving a man with Down's Syndrome, was refused in 1999.