A man who is not mentally ill but whose behaviour is “violent and challenging” must remain inappropriately detained in a ward of chronically mentally ill patients because there is no suitable place here to address his needs, the president of the High Court has said.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly said there is no appropriate public or private facility here to treat the man, who is a ward of court, despite the “extraordinary” fact he has some €750,000 funds in court which could go toward the costs of his treatment.
Pending the outcome of an application for his placement in a specialised UK unit, the judge said he had no option but to order the hospital, which says the man’s behaviour is destabilising other patients and only reluctantly took him on foot of a court order, to continue to detain the man.
“When it comes to looking after the psychiatrically and psychologically unwell, we’re not living in an ideal world but it’s the best I can do,” he said.
The HSE last week made an urgent application for orders permitting detention in hospital of the man who was then in prison.
The orders were sought and granted in the event the man received a non-custodial sentence from the district court when he appeared before it last week for a criminal offence.
The man had previously received a substantial settlement of proceedings brought after he suffered an acquired brain injury in a road traffic accident some years ago. As a result, he exhibited very strange, violent, and sexualised behaviour and his mother, who suffered a head injury after he assaulted her with a chair, was afraid of him, the court heard.
When the case returned before Mr Justice Kelly this week, David Leahy, counsel for the HSE, said the orders had come into effect because a non-custodial sentence was imposed.
Maria Dillon, appointed by the court to represent the man’s interests, said efforts were under way to try and secure a place for the man in the UK unit and she wanted an adjournment to facilitate that.
Ms Dillon said the man is in a ward of mentally ill patients but himself has no symptoms of mental illness. His behaviour remains extremely challenging, he is continually demanding drugs and becomes very agitated and the staff are concerned about his destabilising influence on other patients, she said.
Mr Justice Kelly said he hoped a place would be found in the UK. In the meantime, he would continue the detention orders and adjourn the matter for two weeks.
Last week, the head of the Central Mental Hospital agreed with the judge, while the State has closed its mental hospitals, it has “failed to provide an alternative”.
While there is “stress-testing” of a plan for private firms to fill the gaps left by the closures, people are falling through the cracks, Professor Harry Kennedy said. He said the CMH was not suitable for this man and its 94 beds are full with 24 other people on its waiting list.
Ireland has two forensic beds per 100,000 of population when most other Northern European countries have 10, and describing the system as a “Cinderella” one “is no misnomer”, he added.
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