Sunday 22 July 2018

Man accused of raping his two daughters found 'unfit to be tried'

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Sonya McLean

A Meath man who was accused of raping and sexually assaulting his two daughters has been found unfit to be tried because he is suffering with dementia.

The 87-year-old man was charged with rape and indecent assault of one daughter on a date between January 1, 1974 and September 9, 1975. He was also charged with indecent assault of a second daughter on a date between September 1 1973 and September 1, 1975.

Today, having previously heard expert medical evidence, Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan determined that the man was unfit to be tried under Section 4 5b of The Mental Health Act.

Her ruling means that the man is automatically released from his previous remand in Cloverhill and the issue of bail or custody is no longer at issue.

Dominic McGinn SC, prosecuting, told Ms Justice Heneghan at the Central Criminal Court that because the medical evidence supported a dementia diagnosis, a condition which cannot improve, the man cannot be remanded to the Central Mental Hospital.

Counsel said that under The Mental Health Act an accused can only be detained at the CMH, the only designated centre under the act, in a case where there is likely to be treatment that will improve his/her condition.

He said the medical evidence before the court concluded that the CMH was therefore not a suitable place for the accused.

Ms Justice Heneghan said the offences were very serious and she was “anxious” that a more concrete plan be put in place for the future care of the man and protection of society.

Doctor Michael O Cuill, a consultant psychiatrist based at St Loman's Hospital in Westmeath, told Mr McGinn that he was in a charge of a unit that was in a position to take the accused in the short term with a view to moving him into a specialist unit in a nursing home in the future.

Derek Kenneally SC, defending, said because his client had been found not fit to be tried he could not be detained or imprisoned.

Counsel said the purpose of sending an accused to the CMH was specifically for treatment and “not for detention or for the protection of society”.

Ms Justice Heneghan adjourned the case to July 25 next to monitor the man's progress and made a recommendation that he be admitted to Dr O Cuill's unit and remain there for “as long a period as is deemed necessary”.

Dr O Cuill' said he had been consulting with the community care manager in Meath in relation to the man's future care. He said he would be happy to follow up on the man's care when he was ultimately moved into this nursing home and said he would take him back into his own unit should his stay there become a problem.

He told the judge he would also not allow the man to move to the nursing home in the first instance should his condition deteriorate and it would be unsuitable to move him.

He agreed with Ms Justice Heneghan that his unit was not a designated centre under the act and said he was fully aware of the case and the seriousness of the charges.

“I would be very cognisant of not putting anyone at risk,” Dr O Cuill replied before he outlined the proposed day to day care and management of the man's case in his unit.

Mr Kenneally agreed that the “court is very limited” but suggested that what had been presented by Dr O Cuill was “the very best that can be done in all the circumstances”.

The court was informed that there was a garda present in court who would remain with the man until garda transportation arrived which would bring him to Dr O Cuill's unit.

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