A judge has said he will have little option but to release a man likely to be found not guilty by reason of insanity unless state services can provide the acute in-patient mental health care he needs.
Judge James McNulty said “the buck stops with me” after hearing of the strenuous efforts made by the man’s solicitor to secure him the correct mental health intervention within the prison system and within the state’s mental health system, all to no avail.
Tansanqa Radise has already been in custody for five months and has been deemed unfit to plead by a psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital (CMH) who reviewed him earlier his year.
He has been detained at Cork Prison where only part-time services are available.
Mr Radise was of no fixed abode when he was first arrested in early February for an alleged burglary and trespass.
Originally from Zimbabwe, Mr Radise was arrested in a house in Belgooly in Co Cork after being found there by the householder shortly after 7pm on February 6.
However, since then efforts to get him mental health treatment have failed. At Macroom District Court his solicitor, Eddie Burke, said he was again told his client faced a six-month wait for a bed in the CMH while the Cork-based secure facility Carraig Mor, run by the HSE, also had no bed for him.
Judge McNulty referred to the review conducted by a CMH psychiatrist of Mr Radise in which that expert recommended the court find him not fit to plead until such time as he can be admitted or to defer making such an order until a bed is available.
“I have knocked on every door,” Mr Burke said.
He said that was not the fault of anyone at the jail but that a full-time service was available in the Midlands Prison.
Sgt Brian Harte said “every effort have been made by Mr Burke” and added: “It is a very unsatisfactory situation.” “My fear is for Mr Radise, if he is to walk out of court today what would become of him?”
He said any involuntary admission to a mental health unit would place an onus on a local GP unfamiliar with the case to facilitate that intervention.
Judge McNulty said there were “multiple difficulties” in the case. He said Mr Radise had been in custody since February 7 and had he been sentenced it was likely he would have been released by now.
He said the second difficulty was “more fundamental” - that Mr Radise had been deemed unfit to plead by a forensic psychiatrist, and therefore unable to face trial.
“That would lead the court to the conclusion that he is not guilty by reason of insanity,” the judge said.
He said there was a statutory duty on the authorities to provide a service to the man in those circumstances.
He adjourned the matter to an unscheduled sitting of the court in Bandon on July 31 next at which he indicated he would find Mr Radise not guilty by reason of insanity and that he wanted to know what would happen to the man in those circumstances.
“I think it’s a problem for the Department of Justice,” he said, adding that the CMH comes under the authority of the Department of Health.
“I don’t know who will provide a secure place but it is a responsibility for the state,” he said.
“It’s likely he will be walking free on July 31 if there is no secure place. He cannot be held indefinitely. The buck stops with me.”