Sunday 22 April 2018

Sex attacker free after HSE refuses to provide treatment

Conor Gallagher

HEALTH chiefs have refused to provide residential treatment for a man with severe psychological difficulties who has been convicted of sexually assaulting a care worker.

The 24-year-old suffers from a learning difficulty and schizophrenic tendencies. A previous court hearing heard that jail would not serve any purpose and would leave him at risk of being exploited.

Judge Carmel Stewart imposed a suspended sentence, noting that all she could do was recommend he gets the relevant care in the community.

Forensic psychologist Dr Patrick Randall told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on a previous date that the man was a "high risk" subject and would benefit from a specialist residential placement.

He warned against a custodial sentence, saying the accused was at risk of being exploited in prison and that punishment was not going to help him control his behaviour.

"He needs a very high level of staff supervision and engagement – it is the HSE's responsibility to provide for that," said Dr Randall.

Adjourning the case, Judge Stewart requested a HSE representative appear before the court to lay out the man's options.

Yesterday, a barrister for the HSE, David Leahy, told the court the HSE could not offer him any services because of his previous behaviour. The HSE depended on voluntary organisations to provide such disability services and none of these organisations were willing to accommodate the man.

PUNITIVE

Judge Stewart said the severity of the man's condition meant the HSE was not able to help him, which was "concerning from a public safety point of view".

The court heard that the victim, a staff member in his former residential care home, proceeded with the prosecution so that others would be protected and the accused could get help. The victim did not want a punitive sentence imposed.

The man lost his place in residential care after the attack and moved in with his parents. They also have intellectual difficulties and are unable to provide a suitable environment.

Judge Stewart imposed a three-year suspended sentence.

The accused had pleaded not guilty to sexual assault in the home on February 7, 2011, and was convicted following a trial earlier this year.

During the trial, the victim said she was alone in the house when the man pulled her onto the couch and began to slap her right thigh, the slaps becoming harder and harder.

She said the man was in an aroused state. He tried to take off her bra and had his hand up her top.

The woman said she was calmly telling him to stop and trying to push him off her. She eventually freed herself and ran into the back garden.

He was later seen outside the house holding two knives and making slashing motions with his wrist before his arrest.

A spokesperson for the HSE said: "This was a criminal case and the HSE will not be commenting."

Irish Independent

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