No legal basis to detain traumatised woman regarded risk to mother, CFA accepts
Posted on 14th September 2020 at 21:29
Woman’s declared intention to harm a category of other females taken very seriously by doctors and gardaí
The Child and Family Agency has accepted there is no legal basis for the continued detention of a traumatised young woman whose declared intention to kill her mother and harm a category of other females is taken very seriously by doctors and gardai.
In light of that, the mother’s concerns about the risk of lifting the detention orders, and developments including the woman’s changing attitude about voluntarily moving from her current placement to a different unit, High Court president Ms Justice Mary Irvine has adjourned to Tuesday a hearing concerning whether to lift the orders.
The 18-year-old woman initially agreed last weekend, if the detention orders were lifted, to voluntarily go to the proposed placement.
However, the court heard she had on Monday afternoon given revised instruction to the effect she was unwilling to take up the proposed placement because she considered it inadequate to her needs.
She separately remains on bail from the District Court on foot of charges of alleged assault and was questioned by gardai recently concerning an alleged spitting incident.
Earlier on Monday, Barry O’Donnell, for the CFA, said it is withdrawing proceedings to have the woman made an adult ward of court because there was no medical basis to continue those proceedings in light of medical evidence the woman has capacity. There was no basis for the woman’s detention under the Mental Health Act as she has been assessed as not having a psychiatric disorder, the court heard.
The woman’s mother, who very recently moved out of her home as a result of the threat from her daughter, asked the court to defer, initially for 48 hours, lifting the orders to ensure a managed transition to the proposed new placement and the finalisation of a risk assessment and safety plan.
Michael Lynn SC, for the mother, suggested the court may have an inherent jurisdiction to continue the detention orders in light of a Supreme Court decision. He accepted he could not point to a decision concerning the exercise of inherent jurisdiction in the absence of a finding of incapacity.
The daughter cannot be prevented leaving the proposed placement at any point and her mother is very concerned, not just for her own safety, but to ensure her daughter does not carry out a serious offence, he said. People living in the vicinity of the planned onward placement have no awareness of the potential risk to some in the community and no risk assessment or safety plan has been finalised to address the risks of lifting the detention orders, he said.
In exchanges with counsel, Ms Justice Irvine expressed concerns about the court authorising any form of preventive detention.
Reporting restrictions apply and nothing can be published which could identify the woman, her medical disorder, her present placement and the proposed onward placement.
The court previously heard the nature of her disorder is such she requires specialised treatment not available here but efforts to secure a specialised placement in the UK had been unsuccessful.
She has been detained since the CFA initiated the adult wardship proceedings last December just before she was due to turn 18.
She opposed wardship and an inquiry was deferred for reasons including to obtain medical reports which initially involved doctors disagreeing whether or not she had capacity. After a psychiatrist last week provided a report to the effect the woman has regained capacity, that effectively left no dispute concerning capacity.
The CFA told the court on Monday it is withdrawing the wardship application but has organised an onward placement, involving a 2/1 staff ratio, which was dependent on her voluntary agreement to participate.
Donal McGuinness SC, for the HSE, said the only facility here which could potentially address her needs is the Central Mental Hospital but she does not meet the criteria for admission.
The court heard the woman had agreed to undergo counselling concerning certain issues but not others.
Later on Monday, Mr Fitzgerald told the judge the woman had just instructed she does not wish to go to the new placement because she has concerns about the programme proposed for her. He asked for an adjournment to Tuesday to take full instructions.
The CFA, the HSE and the mother all consented to an adjournment. Mr O’Donnell said the CFA had just received information that the woman is expressing distress about leaving her current placement, and suicidal ideation, and had been referred to mental health services. Arranging her discharge at this time would seem counterproductive but he had no instructions the detention orders should be continued beyond Tuesday, he said.
Pending other developments, the judge is expected to give her ruling on Tuesday.
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