Mentally-ill prisoner seeks assessment to determine if he can stand trial

The High Court has granted leave to a mentally-ill man, currently remanded in custody on charges of rape and indecent assault since January, to take proceedings aimed at securing a place at the Central Mental Hospital so that his fitness to stand trial can be assessed.

The High Court has granted leave to a mentally-ill man, currently remanded in custody on charges of rape and indecent assault since January, to take proceedings aimed at securing a place at the Central Mental Hospital so that his fitness to stand trial can be assessed.

Lawyers acting on behalf of the man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, has brought judicial review proceedings against the Governor of Wheatfield Prison, the DPP, the Minister for Justice, Ireland and the Attorney General over their failure to provide him with the medical services he requires for the preparation of his defence.

Leave was granted today at the High Court by Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill, on an ex-parte basis, who made the matter returnable to a date next month.

In his action the man is seeking declarations including that his continued detention is unlawful, that his continued prosecution be prohibited until all necessary facilities are in place to allow for the preparation of his defence.

He is also seeking a declaration that any person granted free legal aid is entitled to be provided with all ancillary medical services reasonably necessary for the preparation of his defence, and an order directing the defendants to provide the man with the treatment he requires.

Yesterday Counsel for the man Michael O'Higgins SC said that the proceedings were being brought in order that the man's received the required medical and psychiatric evaluation and treatment at the Central Mental Hospital.

His client had been denied a transfer to the CMH so that he can obtain treatment for a diagnosed mental disorder.

Counsel said that the man has been remanded in custody in circumstances where he has not been given the proper resources to allow him instruct his legal team and prepare his defence, which is a breach of his constitutional rights.

The Court heard that the man has failed to receive priority in his bid to be admitted to the CMH because of his continued incarceration and his benign demeanour in prison.

The book of evidence against the man was served in February of this year, and he has been returned for trial at the Central Criminal Court.

In prison the man had been examined by a Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist at the CMH who expressed a view that the man, being mentally ill might not be fit to stand trial. The consultant placed his name on a waiting list for admission to the CMH.

According to the consultant the man's legal advisors are not in a position to take proper instruction or prepare his defence until an opinion over his fitness to stand trial is available.

The man's prosecution has been adjourned on several occasions so that the man's mental status can be fully evaluated.

However the man is now in custody for 11 months and is still awaiting a transfer to the CMH for further evaluation and treatment for a period of six months.

After lawyers for the man wrote to the CMH seeking a place their client they were informed that the governor of Wheatfield prison had not directed the man's transfer to the facility.

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