Judge rejects man's plea for release from Central Mental Hospital
Posted on 13th May 2020 at 21:57
The man, diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, detained since early this year
A High Court judge has rejected a plea by a man for release from the Central Mental Hospital having completed a prison sentence.
The man, who has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, has been detained in the CMH since early this year.
Last month, just before his three and a half year prison term for an assault on prison officers was to expire, his CMH detention was extended under the High Court’s wardship jurisdiction pending an inquiry into whether he should be made a ward of court.
The man objects to wardship and, during a review hearing on Wednesday, he asked that interim orders continuing his CMH detention be lifted so he can live in the community, having engaged with Fr Peter McVerry about getting a place to live.
He issued the plea to Mr Justice Robert Eagar via a video link from the CMH. Seeking the interim orders, Donal McGuinness SC, for the HSE, said an issue was raised previously whether the man should be discharged from the CMH and managed under the Mental Health Act 2001 but that was not possible because there are no facilities in the State to adequately meet his secure therapeutic needs.
The wardship procedure was initiated because the man remains quite unwell and reports from consultant psychiatrists involved in his treatment stated he is of unsound mind and lacks capacity to manage his person and finances.
The doctors considered the man would not take his medications if released into the community and that would result in him becoming “acutely psychotic” and being a potential risk of lethal violence, counsel said. The doctors said the man lacks insight into his diagnosis and may end up homeless if released, counsel added.
This was the man’s ninth CMH admission during his prison sentence and the doctors believed his needs would be best met by remaining there pending the wardship inquiry. The wardship procedure allows for regular reviews as to whether continued detention is appropriate, he added.
Eilis Brennan SC, for the guardian ad litem representing the man’s interests, said the man has served a long sentence and had been very much looking forward to his release last month. The last 12 months of his sentence were to be suspended on condition he would engage with the probation and mental health services and he had very much looked forward to doing that and to showing he could do this in the community, she said.
The man does not accept he is of unsound mind and their side are awaiting a report next month from a consultant psychiatrist who recently assessed him for the wardship inquiry, she said. While the other medical reports had made consistent references to incidents of violence, the man had served a sentence for that and it was a long time ago, she said.
In his evidence, the man said he decided years ago “to turn my life around”, had attended literacy and drug awareness classes in prison and engaged with the probation and mental health services. If released, he wanted to do a course, keep out of trouble, get a job and would stay away from illegal drugs, he said. He agreed he has schizophrenia and needs to take medication and said doctors and nurses “have helped me a lot”. He is aware of the Covid-19 pandemic and would abide by the associated restrictions, he added.
Mr Justice Eagar said, having considered the man’s evidence, the medical reports and the submissions, he was satisfied to continue the CMH detention pending further review in late July.
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