Homeless man fears good treatment in care unit might be a 'trap', court told

The man was described as physically very well. However, there was a sudden and dramatic deterioration in his behaviour later last month, the High Court heard.

Homeless man fears good treatment in care unit might be a 'trap', court told

A brain-damaged homeless man who was moved by court order to a residential care facility after being inappropriately detained for more than a year in a prison high dependency unit has demonstrated conflicting behaviour since the move, the High Court has heard.

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Psychiatric and social reports prepared earlier last month found the man had settled well in the residential unit and even appeared "slightly puzzled by his good fortune" and why so many people were interested in his well being, Mr Justice Peter Kelly was told today.

A psychiatrist had described him as very pleasant and engaging, with a "compelling story" to tell. He was physically very well, including having feet in good condition following earlier concerns about them, and to have prospered since his move from prison.

However, later last month, there was a sudden and dramatic deterioration in his behaviour, Shane Murphy SC, for the HSE, said.

He had become paranoid and aggressive, appeared to consider his good treatment might be a "trap" and expressed concern he was being poisoned. He had threatened staff with plastic implements and in recent days threatened to do something so bad he would be returned to prison, counsel said.

His past history appeared to involve minor matters like intoxication which were dealt with by the District Court but his behaviour raised concerns whether he might require a more secure placement, he outlined.

David Leahy BL, for the general solicitor for wards of court, representing the man's interests, said the earlier reports indicated the man had had a "Dickensian" change of fortune but those appeared out of date given the latest report.

The case was back before Mr Justice Kelly for review today following the man's move to the residential unit just before Christmas.

The judge said there was an "extraordinary" contrast between the earlier reports and the most recent social report from the unit outlining a deterioration in the man's behaviour. Noting the sides agreed further reports were required, he adjourned the matter for a week.

The deterioration may be a manifestation of his underlying psychiatric condition but more information is necessary, he said. The man was moved to the residential unit after being on remand for more than a year in Mountjoy Prison’s high dependency unit despite persistent reports he is of unsound mind and needs residential care.

Having been told in December a senior HSE official had cancelled a residential care plan due to "resource issues" and it was proposed to discharge the man to access homeless services, Mr Justice Kelly said this “truly awful" situation "should not exist in a civilised state".

Aged in his fifties and homeless for some time, the man has a history of mental disorder but does not meet the Mental Health Act criteria for admission to psychiatric units.

He was charged in November 2018 with assaulting two security guards who approached him when sheltering in the women’s toilets of a Dublin shopping centre and was remanded to Mountjoy as a result.

His case came before the High Court after his solicitors in the criminal case wrote to invoke that court's wardship jurisdiction, claiming the HSE was avoiding its statutory duties to the man.

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