Traumatised woman (18) a ‘serious risk’ to her mother and others, court told

President of High Court to decide if any medical basis for continuation of wardship proceedings

Psychiatrists say the 18-year-old woman needs to be placed in a medium secure care unit but all such units approached to date, including in the UK, are unwilling to take her.

Psychiatrists say the 18-year-old woman needs to be placed in a medium secure care unit but all such units approached to date, including in the UK, are unwilling to take her.

 

The President of the High Court is to decide if there is any medical basis to permit continuation of wardship proceedings concerning a young woman with a traumatic history who is regarded as a “very serious” risk to her mother and certain others.

Psychiatrists say the 18-year-old woman needs to be placed in a medium secure care unit but all such units approached to date, including in the UK, are unwilling to take her.

She is currently on bail from the District Court in relation to charges of assault and a condition of her bail is that she remains in a particular special care unit.

She was questioned by gardaí this week in relation to a separate alleged spitting incident.

High Court president Ms Justice Mary Irvine had listed the matter on Friday for directions arising from a number of developments, including that a report this week by a senior consultant psychiatrist, who had previously assessed the woman as lacking capacity, expressed the view she has regained capacity.

That report also referred to matters such as criminal intent, Barry O’Donnell SC, for the Child and Family Agency, said.

Another consultant psychiatrist had in a report last March concluded the woman has capacity and a third psychiatrist, whose report focussed on a care plan for the woman, considered she lacked capacity.

Ms Justice Irvine directed a hearing next week to consider whether the wardship proceedings, initiated by the Child and Family Agency, can proceed.

The wardship inquiry was adjourned last May and orders for the woman’s continued detention in the special care unit were also made.

Reporting restrictions apply to the case, including preventing any reports of details of a certain condition the woman has.

The woman is separately represented in the proceedings because she and her court appointed guardian are in dispute as to what is in her best interests. The HSE and her mother are also represented.

The woman objects to her mother being involved but the CFA considers the mother’s involvement is useful.

The court was previously told there is a prior history of assault and sexual violence in the case and an incident earlier in 2019 lead to the woman’s admission to special care. She had described her intentions and a large knife was found, the court heard.

She had set out in a manuscript a plan to kill and mutilate someone which, the CFA said, was treated as a “definite” threat. She also talked about wanting to go to college, reflecting a form of “deep seated disordered thinking.”

It was considered she would need to be placed in a UK specialist unit as the level of complexity presented exceeds anything the services here have come across, the CFA said.

On Friday, Mr O ‘Donnell, for the CFA, said there was still a “slim evidential” basis related to capacity, that issue was not fully resolved and they were facing “a changing situation”. There are implications if the woman is not taken into wardship and the CFA needs a few days to consider whether to proceed with seeking wardship, he said.

None of the parties objected to the matter being adjourned to Wednesday.

Michael Lynn SC, for the mother, said she appeared to be at very substantial risk from her daughter and further liaison with the gardai concerning that risk was warranted as a matter of urgency.

A solicitor representing the woman stressed certain medical information concerning her cannot, in light of the separate criminal proceedings, be shared with gardai.

Ms Justice Irvine, who described the case as very complex, said her role is limited to the wardship matter. The woman should not be taken into wardship if that is not warranted, she said.