13 Aug 2022

Man needing treatment at the Central Mental Hospital will remain in prison

Man needing treatment at the Central Mental Hospital will remain in prison

A man who needs treatment at the Central Mental Hospital while he awaits trial for an alleged murder will remain in prison until a bed becomes available, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Lawyers for the 26-year-old, who can't be named by order of the High Court, had argued that his detention in prison was unlawful given that consultant psychiatrist Dr Conor O'Neill has said that the only appropriate place to treat him is at the Central Mental Hospital (CMH). Due to a shortage of beds he is being held in Cloverhill Prison, the court heard.

Ms Justice Niamh Hyland at the High Court had previously rejected an application for release and President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham on Thursday affirmed her decision on behalf of the three-judge appeal court. 

Mr Justice Birmingham said the man's lawyers had sought their client's release under Article 40 of the Constitution, but it was clear that, "the desired outcome would be transfer to the Central Mental Hospital." He described the application as a  "resources case" requiring a consideration of whether his detention is made unlawful by the failure to provide adequate medical treatment.

The judge said that release would require an "egregious breach of his fundamental rights" and that this case "could not conceivably result in the conclusion that his detention is unlawful."

He pointed out that while the CMH is the appropriate place for the man to be treated, his immediate needs are being met at Cloverhill. He is under the care of a psychiatrist from the CMH and psychiatric nurses. He is also being offered the same medication he would be given if he were at the CMH. Mr Justice Birmingham added that the evidence provided "goes nowhere near what is required to make an order under Article 40." He pointed out that the man's condition would be worsened if released and he would find it more difficult to get a bed in the CMH.

He added that the depiction of the man as "languishing in prison" is not justified as "everything that can be done is being done." He also pointed out that the State is preparing to open a new facility at Portrane in north Dublin which will provide more beds for people in the applicant's position.

Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy and Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said they agree with the president.

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