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Court unsure how to deal with 79-year-old vandal who terrorized a neighborhood

The senior citizen, who is alleged to have damaged a thousand cars in Vigo, is being sent to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation

anciano rayacoches
José Antonio Vázquez in an ambulance on Friday in Vigo.

José Antonio Vázquez, the 79-year-old vandal who allegedly spent more than a year damaging cars in the O Calvario neighborhood of Vigo, in Spain’s northwestern Galicia region, appeared in court on Friday following his recent arrest.

According to police reports, Vázquez damaged 120 cars in January alone

At the request of prosecutors, Vázquez – who faces multiple complaints for physical assault and vandalism – has been sent to a psychiatric center in the city for an evaluation. Prosecutors would like to see him admitted, and also want social services to consider whether the 79-year-old could be considered to be in a vulnerable situation, thus requiring him to live in a nursing home.

Vázquez spent Friday night at the local police station. He was arrested on February 1 at the request of a magistrate who will try him in two weeks for scratching 12 cars. The vandal not only faces criminal proceedings, but is also up against civil complaints. According to police reports, Vázquez damaged the paint and broke the locks of as many as a thousand cars in 2018, and another 120 this past January. Police also blame him for at least three assaults on local residents who were allegedly dealt blows by the vandal after arguing with him in the street.

Posters in the streets of Vigo with the face of the vandal.
Posters in the streets of Vigo with the face of the vandal.

Judicial authorities want to avoid releasing Vázquez, who was sent to a mental health center last year after attacking one of his neighbors, but was not diagnosed with a psychological disorder and shortly discharged. According to Galicia daily La Voz de Galicia, he was let go after three days when doctors said he didn’t need treatment and that he was “mentally sane and his speech coherent.”

Police also blame Vázquez for at least three assaults on local residents

In response to the unusual case, Vigo’s public prosecutor asked a family court on Friday for Vázquez to be involuntarily and urgently sent to a psychiatric hospital for “a complete diagnosis of his current condition, and particularly of his mental health.”

The prosecutor also urged the court to ask social services to assess his “ability to live alone and attend to his own needs, with the aim of studying his possible placement in an aged care facility.”

Following his arrest and hearing, the vandal has been placed under the supervision of a family court, which ordered an ambulance to take the 79-year-old from the courthouse to the Álvaro Cunqueiro hospital for a psychiatric evaluation and possible admission.

English version by Asia London Palomba.

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