The young woman found wandering and in a confused and distressed state by gardaí in Dublin City centre last month is to remain in HSE care for at least another 24 hours, the High Court heard today.
The mystery woman, who was initially believed to be in her teens and European, was formally identified as being an Australian national after gardaí took the unprecedented step yesterday of releasing her photograph to the media.
This morning at the High Court Mr Justice George Birmingham was informed gardaí had now established she is an Australian national, aged in her mid twenties. The court was also told the young woman may be suffering from a psychiatric condition. She was not named in court.
Lawyers for the HSE, the gardaí and her legally appointed guardian asked the court to leave in place orders allowing the HSE to keep the woman in care. The orders should be kept in place pending an assessment of her by a psychiatrist who deals with adults, it was submitted.
The request was made after both a consultant psychiatrist involved in the treatment of the woman and a Garda Detective involved in the investigation to establish her identity agreed she was a highly vulnerable individual.
Felix McEnroy SC for the woman’s court appointed guardian (who was appointed after it was initially thought she was under 18 years of age) said that while it was now the case she was “not a minor” “a temporary vacuum” should not be created allowing the woman to leave where she is currently in care. Such an opening could “put her life at risk” counsel said.
In his evidence Detective Sergeant David Gallagher said the woman had been identified and her age had been established as a result of the Garda appeal. She was an Australian national, with different addresses in Australia who arrived in Ireland three weeks before she was found by the gardaí
She had been staying with a relative in Co Tipperary up to the day she was discovered by the gardaí, he said. There were indications she had psychiatric issues, he added. He agreed that the woman was “a vulnerable individual”.
Consultant child psychiatrist Dr Brian Houlihan said that the young woman had displayed signs of someone with a difficult past. It was important for those treating her to have sight of her medical history, he added.
Mr Justice George Birmingham said he was prepared to discharge the care orders but in the interests of the individual was placing a stay on the discharge until Thursday morning, when the matter will return before the courts.
His decision to discharge the care orders, the Judge said did not preclude the HSE seeking further orders in respect of the woman.
The judge added he was satisfied to discharge an order, granted earlier this week, which would have allowed doctors force feed the woman. Doctors treating her became concerned because she was not eating. However the court heard they did not need to force feed her after she started eating and drinking.