Family warn that ‘mentally ill’ man is a danger

Concerns that he will ‘kill someone or be killed’ unless he is kept in secure custody

The family of a Dublin man, described as “seriously mentally ill”, fear he will “either kill someone or be killed” unless he is kept in secure custody by the Health Service Executive.

The man, who is in his early 40s, slept rough for almost a year following his release from a HSE unit last year – despite the written protests of the family who warned that his condition would deteriorate quickly. He had been in long-term, secure, psychiatric care from his 20s until March last year when he was released by the HSE because of “maladaptive behaviour” at a Dublin psychiatric unit.

After his release the family said they begged the HSE to take him back, which happened last week after he appeared before Dublin District Court on public order and assault charges.

A fitness-to-plead hearing has been scheduled for April. He was released on bail and readmitted to HSE secure psychiatric care two days later. He can be held for 21 days under the Mental Health Act 2001.

Pleading for him to be kept in, his family has warned that he could seriously assault a member of the public, perhaps sexually, adding that he has accosted people and pushed a person in front of oncoming traffic. He has spoken of being “in love” with underage girls he has met.

Incapable

He has said he is incapable of taking medication or living independently, a member of the family told The Irish Times.

The HSE has, in response, argued he was being “monitored and supported” in the community under its mental health programme for the homeless at Ushers Island.

During the hearing before Judge James Faughnan, the man spoke of being ready to go to his "execution willingly", said he had trespassed at the Reichstag and repeatedly said: "I'm dreaming."

His solicitor, Donal Quigley, told the court his client was not fit to plead. Two of his sisters fear he may be discharged back into homelessness by the end of the month.

The man had become unwell in his 20s. Diagnosed with psychosis he was admitted to St Ita’s, Portrane in 2000. In 2007, a mental health tribunal found he had “very severe treatment-resistant schizophrenia”.

His then consultant, Dr Rita Hughes, said: "It requires large doses of antipsychotic medication to achieve a minimal level of control of his illness. He has been non-compliant with his medication when discharged in the past."

Later, when St Brendan’s closed in March 2013, he was transferred to the new Phoenix Care Centre. He was transferred to an all-male facility, Weir Home in December 2014.

His transfer letter states he has “chronic schizophrenia and a strong affective component”. His notes show he was warned that his “maladaptive behaviour” could result in the “expulsion from Weir Home”.

His notes declared the “opinion” that he is not seriously mentally ill, but has a personality disorder. It is recommended he be discharged to Ushers Island programme unless his behaviour improves.

‘Sexually inappropriate’

His notes show a continuing unhappiness on the part of staff with his behaviour, described as “aggressive” and “sexually inappropriate”. His family says, however, this behaviour is due to mental illness.

He was asked to leave on March 27th last year after a violent incident with another patient. Gardaí were called. He left with a rucksack, a 24-hour supply of medication and a nine-line note telling him how to access homeless services.

Two days later, Ushers Island reported to the Weir Home that he had not turned up. Over the next 10 months he slept rough or in emergency accommodation – though was barred from many.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times

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