Judge rules detention of ‘psychotic’ man in prison is lawful
Experts said the man needed to receive care at the Central Mental Hospital
Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum, Dublin. Photo: Arthur Carron
December 09 2020 02:30 AM
Thw detention of an “actively psychotic” murder accused in prison is lawful even though he should be receiving treatment in the Central Mental Hospital (CMH), a judge has ruled.
Experts say the CMH is the only place in Ireland where the man can receive the care he needs. However, he cannot be admitted because it is full.
The matter is one of a number of recent cases highlighting difficulties caused by a lack of capacity at the hospital.
Lawyers for the man challenged the legality of his detention in circumstances where they said he was suffering from homicidal thoughts in prison and not getting the treatment he needs.
The man, who cannot be identified due to a court order, suffers from schizophrenia and doctors say he is actively psychotic. He was charged with murder after presenting himself at a Garda station after a man he was sharing a hostel with was stabbed to death.
Currently he is being held in a single cell on a wing for vulnerable prisoners at Cloverhill Prison in Dublin, where he has been for several months.
He is subject to a treatment regime that ensures he is under the care of a psychiatrist from the CMH and is being offered the same medication as would be available to him in that setting.
However, he is refusing to take anti-psychotic drugs.
Because of different legal regimes, he cannot be compelled to take the medication against his wishes in prison – but could be compelled in the CMH under the Mental Health Act. He is being actively considered for admission to the CMH on a weekly basis.
In a written ruling, Ms Justice Niamh Hyland said the treatment the man was receiving in prison was admittedly not fulfilling his medical needs. However, the judge was not persuaded that, to the extent the prisoner’s rights of bodily integrity were breached by the failure to admit him to the CMH, such a breach was sufficiently egregious, exceptional or fundamental to render his detention unlawful.
In reaching the decision she said she had regard to the absence of any intentional breach by the Governor of Cloverhill. The judge also said it would be more difficult for the man to access the CMH if he was released from detention.
He could access the CMH only if he is already in an approved centre, but no approved centre would take him due to the risk he poses.