Woman threatened she would procure Covid-19 infection, High Court told

Medium secure care unit needed but such units unwilling to take her, court told

High Court president Mr Justice Peter Kelly agreed on Friday to adjourn wardship proceedings concerning the woman.

High Court president Mr Justice Peter Kelly agreed on Friday to adjourn wardship proceedings concerning the woman.


A vulnerable young woman with a traumatic history who is regarded as a “very serious” risk to certain persons has threatened to procure the infection of another person with Covid-19, the High Court has heard.

Psychiatrists say the 18-year-old woman needs to be placed in a medium secure care unit but all such units approached to date are unwilling to take her and the search for an appropriate place, extending to units in the UK, continues, Barry O’Donnell SC, for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency said.

High Court president Mr Justice Peter Kelly agreed on Friday to adjourn wardship proceedings concerning the woman and to continue orders for her detention in a special care unit which, he noted, is not designed to be secure.

An inquiry into whether the woman should be made a ward of court should proceed as soon as practicable so as to determine a dispute between doctors concerning her capacity, he said.

A report recently obtained by her lawyers from a psychiatrist had concluded she did not meet the criteria for wardship and that heightens the prospect of a contested wardship hearing, Mr O’Donnell said.

An earlier report by another psychiatrist had suggested her various disorders did not amount to loss of capacity and rather suggested a fluctuating capacity while two other psychiatrists were of the view she lacks capacity.

Details of a certain condition cannot, by court order, be disclosed.

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.

On Friday, Mr O’Donnell said he wanted the matter adjourned while efforts continue to find a medium secure placement and to allow his side time to get updated reports concerning capacity.


The woman objects to her mother continuing to be involved in the proceedings, he added.

The CFA considers the mother’s involvement is useful but that dispute would have to be addressed by lawyers separately representing the mother and daughter, he said.

Mr Justice Kelly said reports had detailed many instances of “vicious and violent” conduct by the woman and made for “quite shocking” reading, including one citing threats she had made to behave in a certain ways so as to infect a certain person with Covid-19. She was reported as having said, if she did not succeed in infecting someone with Covid-19, there was “no point in continuing”.

There appeared to be an “insuperable” difficulty in finding a medium secure place, he said.

On consent of the parties, he would adjourn the matter but was anxious the capacity issue be decided as soon as practicable. If she is found to lack capacity, she can be taken into wardship but, if found to have capacity, that is a matter for the criminal authorities, he said. The woman is subject of criminal proceedings before the District Court, on hold pending the wardship inquiry.

The court was previously told there is a prior history of assault and sexual violence and an incident earlier in 2019 lead to her 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, Mr O’Donnell said, was treated as a “definite” threat. She also talked about wanting to go to college and pursue a career, 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, counsel said.