Friday 15 December 2017

High Court prevents man who is ‘serious threat’ from being released onto the streets

Natasha Reid

A MAN considered by the DPP to be ‘a serious threat’ to the public was prevented from being released onto the street today after three days of legal proceedings in as many courts.

The 31-year-old is charged with killing a person in 2010, but was referred to the Central Mental Hospital earlier this year after being found ‘unfit’ to stand trial.

However the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, brought a High Court challenge to his detention over the weekend, and on Sunday night Mr Justice Gerard Hogan ordered his release.

Mr Justice Hogan described the man as ‘possibly the most seriously disturbed individual currently detained in civil confinement in the State’.

However he found that the man was ‘in unlawful custody’ because when the Central Criminal Court sent him to the Central Mental Hospital, it had not provided for a hearing two weeks later to reassess the situation as prescribed by law.

The judge placed a stay on the order until 5pm tdoay, prompting to the DPP to first try to challenge the ruling in the Supreme Court and then ask the High Court President to overturn it.

Paul Coffey SC, for the DPP, told High Court President Nicholas Kearns that the accused was seriously disturbed.

“If released, he represents a very serious threat to the general public,” he said on Monday.

Mr Justice Kearns referred the case back to the Central Criminal Court, where Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan ruled on the matter yesterday, just three hours before the man was due to walk free.

The State asked for the man to be committed to the Central Mental Hospital for not more than two weeks for the assessment required under 2006 mental health laws.

The Clinical Director of the Central Mental Hospital, Professor Henry Kennedy, told the court that the man continued to suffer from a mental disorder and required inpatient treatment at the hospital. He said that an Approved Medical Officer would carry out an assessment and furnish a report on his needs to the court.

Mr Justice Sheehan said that because

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