Seven patients were granted conditional release from the Central Mental Hospital last year, the first such discharges under a new legal system.
Of those released, one had been detained in the forensic psychiatric hospital for more than 30 years, one for 22 years and another for 21 years. Of the remainder, two had been detained for 13 years and another two for 11 years.
The conditional releases were granted by the Mental Health Review Board, which will make the decision as to whether or not John Gallagher will continue to be detained or released, either subject to conditions or unconditionally.
The board’s annual report, published by the Department of Justice, said that “for the first time” they were able to consider a “small number of suitable patients” for conditional discharge. This power had been granted to the board following the enactment in Feb 2011 of the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2010.
In his foreword, board chairman Mr Justice Brian McCracken said the board had “previously expressed concern” about the continuing detention of some patients whom the board considered suitable for discharge. Mr Justice McCracken said the board carried out 182 reviews in 2011, down from 205 in 2010.
Of the reviews, 121 related to not guilty by reason of insanity verdicts, 31 related to involuntary transfers for prisons and 17 related to unfit to plead cases. He said the board was legally obliged to review the detention of each patient every six months, at least. He said that, for the first time, the board conducted its twelfth and thirteen reviews of particular patients during 2011.
Under the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006, the board reviews the detention of people referred by the courts who have been either found unfit to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity. The board also reviews detention of prisoners, including military prisoners, transferred there suffering from a mental disorder.
The report said there were around 80 patients detained in the CMH under the insanity acts; 72% reviewed in 2011 had been diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia, 14% were suffering from schizo-affective disorder and 14% were diagnosed with other disorders.
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