Thirty-six on waiting list for CMH ahead of mentally ill murder accused, court told

Family say man should be receiving treatment in Central Mental Hospital, not a remand prison

The Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum, Dublin, is the State’s only facility for severely mentally ill people in the criminal justice system. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

The Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum, Dublin, is the State’s only facility for severely mentally ill people in the criminal justice system. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

 

A mentally ill murder accused whose family say he should be receiving treatment in the Central Mental Hospital (CMH) and not a remand prison is getting medical care equivalent to what he would get if living in the community, the High Court has been told.

The man is awaiting trial on remand having been charged earlier this year with the murder of another man. He suffers from schizophrenia and is actively psychotic with homicidal ideation, the court heard.

While the sides accept the best place for him is not prison but the CMH, it is accepted the CMH is at capacity and there are 36 people ahead of him on the waiting list to get into it.

The CMH in Dundrum, Dublin, is the State’s only facility for severely mentally ill people in the criminal justice system.

The remand prison and the CMH, a notice party, oppose the application for an order to release him which his lawyers say would not be executed immediately to see if a place could become available in the CMH for him. The court heard he has stopped taking anti-psychotic medication but at the weekend resumed taking it for depression.

The man’s parents support the application and were in court on Monday for the second day of the case when Grainne O’Neill BL, for the prison governor, urged the court to reject it.

Ms O’Neill said the man was receiving the same treatment as he would if in the community and his place on the waiting list was reviewed every Monday as part of the work that the CMH outreach team do for him.

These proceedings are an effort to put pressure on the admissions policy of CMH, counsel argued.

An order for release under article 40 of the Constitution was not the appropriate remedy and is not even a remedy the man’s representatives seek, she said. They had said, even if the court ordered his release, he should not be immediately released to see if things improve in relation to his position on the waiting list, she said.

Barry O’Donnell SC, for the director of the CMH, said it was clearly accepted the best place for him was the CMH.

The man is receiving treatment in hospital from the CMH outreach team and by the in-house prison medical team, he said.

While it was not satisfactory, the situation was not as stark as the man’s lawyer had argued, counsel said. The deficits in his treatment were not such as to trigger the seriousness test for releasing someone under article 40.

Ms Justice Niamh Hyland said she hoped to give her decision as quickly as possible.