Tuesday 19 March 2019

Health system failure leads to court

Judge Haughton describes situation as a 'scandal'

Judge Gerard Haughton
Judge Gerard Haughton

Brendan Keane

A District Court judge has described as 'a scandal' a situation where a mother has been forced to bring criminal proceedings against her own daughter in an effort to secure psychiatric help for her.

Judge Gerard Haughton, on his last day as a District Court judgem said the time has come for the Constitution to be torn up if the facts in a matter presented to him were accurate.

Judge Haughton made the comments at Wednesday's sitting of Enniscorthy District Court - sitting in Gorey - in the case of a defendant charged with breach of a barring order, criminal damage and theft.

The judge directed that sensitivity be used in reporting the case and requested the identity of the accused not be revealed.

The defendant's solicitor, Ed King, in outlining the details of the case said his client's mother had been left with 'no recourse' but to bring charges against her daughter in an effort to get her mental health support that was unavailable elsewhere.

Mr King told the court that his client had been referred to University Hospital Waterford on numerous occasions and was either sent home again or admitted and then quickly sent home again as a result of adequate and appropriate mental services not being available.

'That's what has led us to this situation,' said Mr King, in court.

'It's a sorry situation because [the defendant's mother] is the complainant and she has done the utmost for [the accused] to get her treatment,' he added.

In response Judge Haughton said the situation was a 'scandal'.

'If someone who has the constitutional right to liberty has to be put into prison to get the help they need that is scandalous,' he said.

'I am not a psychologist but if it is the case as it is being presented to me today, when a person has to be put in prison to receive psychiatric help they require, then we may as well rip up the Constitution,' he added.

On the indictable matters the judge sent the accused forward to the Circuit Court - to ascertain whether or not she is fit to stand trial - and with regard to the breach of the barring order he remanded the defendant in custody to appear before the district court again in March.

New Ross Standard