Man loses challenge to detention in psychiatric hospital

Father of two daughters was suffering from paranoid delusions, court hears

Thu, Jul 4, 2013, 16:37

A man detained in a psychiatric hospital after a psychiatrist concluded he was suffering from paranoid delusions has lost a High Court bid to secure his release.

The man, aged in his 30s with two young daughters, was until relatively recently living with his partner and and the children. He has been detained in hospital since June 11th last after incidents including his becoming convinced his partner had formed a romantic attachment with another man who, the patient believed, was coming to their home and posting indecent images of the children on the internet. 

The man was also convinced his house was full of listening devices and had assaulted his former partner on the street, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan noted.

The man brought a challenge under Article 40 of the Constitution to the legality of his detention on grounds alleging there were defects in a Mental Health Tribunal order of June 21st last affirming the validity of his detention but, in a ruling yesterday, Mr Justice Hogan dismissed the challenge.

Outlining the background, the judge said the man was assessed by a doctor as requiring acute psychiatric care and that doctor flled out the hospital admission form required under the Mental Health Act 2001. In that form, the doctor said the man was suffering from paranoid delusions and thought disorder but, “due to an oversight”,  failed to fill out one part of the form related to recommending detention. 

On June 21st, the Mental Health Tribunal concluded, while the man’s condition had improved, he still had paranoid delusions and it confirmed the detention order.  The judge said the tribunal concluded the doctor had given clinical reasons for the detention and, while he had not “ticked a box” on the form as required, it found no injustice was caused by allowing the detention continue.

Mr Justice Hogan said Section 18 of the 2001 Act requires the tribunal must consider if there has been compliance with administrative procedures for detention and whether any failure to comply affects the substance of a detention order and creates an injustice.

In this case, the tribunal concluded the breach of Section 10 of the Act in not filing part of the admission form did not cause an inujustice.

The judge ruled the tribunal was entitled to reach such a conclusion.  It was implicit in the examining doctor’s completion of the form that he was satisfied the man was suffering from paranoid delusions and the doctor was recommending his detention, the judge said.   The tribunal was entiled to be satisfied the substance of the “very important protections” contained in Serction 10 of the 2001 Act had been complied with, “even if imperfectly”, the judge added.  It was clear this doctor had formed a very clear view of the man’s condition and had carried out a full examination of him.  The defect in the form, while “regrettable”, did not affect the substance of the order.

The Tribunal had correctly concluded it could invoke its jurisidiction under Section 18 of the 2001 Act to have the admission order retrospectively validated, the judge ruled.  In the circumstances, the man’s detention was not unlawful and the court would refuse his release.