Court to rule on CMH detention

A dispute over the appropriate procedure for the detention in the Central Mental Hospital of a mentally ill man, described as dangerous and a “grave” risk to himself and others, has come before the High Court.

Court to rule on CMH detention

The HSE wants the man, due for release after serving sentences for serious criminal offences, to be made a ward of court and detained, under the court’s wardship jurisdiction, in the CMH.

No other centre is considered capable of securing his safety and welfare and the issue arises because his situation is not catered for under the 2001 Mental Health Act, the court heard.

Lawyers for the man agree he should be in the CMH but say he should be detained under the 2001 act and the court can, and should, make certain orders to achieve that. They say that would afford him greater protections as a detained person in accordance with the State’s human rights obligations.

The act provides for a person such as the man to be treated in an “approved centre”, other than the CMH, but the court was told no other approved centre was in a position to provide the secure detention and treatment necessary.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly reserved judgment on the HSE’s application after a day-long hearing. The judge ordered the man remain detained in the CMH pending his ruling. The wards of court jurisdiction is administered by the president of the High Court and, at the outset, Mr Justice Kelly said he wanted to make clear, “certainly since I became president”, all detained wards of court have detention regularly reviewed.

On the facts of this case, including agreement the man requires to be detained in the CMH and the act does not reduce the scope of the wards of court jurisdiction, the dispute appeared akin to “a lawyer’s picnic”, he said.

In submissions, Gerard Durcan, counsel for the HSE, said it was not disputed the man could be detained within the wardship jurisdiction. It had been established he is of unsound mind and the “overwhelming balance” of the evidence was he needs protection for his interests and those of everyone else.

Feichin McDonagh, for the man, said the 2001 act affords more protections, including in relation to review of his detention, and rights to be informed of, and to make representations about, proposals to change his medication or to restrain or isolate him.

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