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Man wants to stay in jail for psychiatric help


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Man wants to stay in jail for psychiatric help

A 22-year-old man is receiving the vital mental health treatment he requires while in prison – in contrast to the HSE’s psychiatric service which refused to treat him

That’s what his solicitor John Mitchell told Galway District Court this week, as he asked Judge Mary Fahy to activate two suspended prison sentences totalling seven months which she imposed on his client earlier this year for assaulting two nurses in the Psychiatric Unit in Galway in 2020.

Mr Mitchell said keeping the young man incarcerated was the only way of ensuring he would continue to receive the vital mental health support and treatment he needed.

“He suffers from Asperger’s personality disorder, and the psychiatric unit will not take him,” Mr Mitchell revealed.

He explained the young man is currently serving a two-month sentence – due to end soon – which was imposed on him in July for contravening a barring order in June, in a separate matter.

The imposition of that sentence, he said, triggered the likely activation of the four and three-month sentences imposed previously as his client had reoffended during the period of their two-year suspension.

The matter was brought back before the court this week for Judge Fahy’s ruling to either activate the sentences or make no order.

Asking the judge to ensure his client was kept in prison, Mr Mitchell explained: “He’s getting more mental health treatment while in Castlerea Prison than what he ever got from the HSE.”

Mr Mitchell said his client’s diagnosis of having Asperger’s, a personality disorder, does not fall within the parameters of the Mental Health Act and for that reason the HSE’s psychiatric service would not take him.

However, he was now receiving the treatment he needed while under the care of psychiatrist, Dr Benjamin O’Keeffe, at Castlerea Prison, he said.

“Dr O’Keefe has done a lot of work with him alright while he’s been in the prison,” Sergeant Stan O’Grady, prosecuting, concurred.

Judge Fahy said she wanted to laud Dr O’Keeffe for the great work he does for many people and for the prompt way he issues reports to the court and gives evidence on occasion which helps the court enormously.

The judge said she would like the young man to continue to get treatment before asking Mr Mitchell to clarify if he was asking her to activate the sentences.

“Yes, I think it would be in his best interests because he’s certainly getting more treatment in prison,” the solicitor replied.

The young man sat quietly listening to the proceedings via video link from the prison.

“How do you feel about staying in prison?” the judge asked him.

“I don’t mind,” he replied.

“That is a serious indictment on this country; that I would have to impose a sentence because the services are not there,” Judge Fahy said.

She told Mr Mitchell she would not be happy to activate the entire seven months at the moment and would only impose the four months.

“I’m only doing it, reluctantly, so he will get treatment,” she said.

“And no treatment while he’s not in prison.  There must have been five to six breaches of the barring order too and he was in the psychiatric unit when the assaults occurred,” the solicitor emphasised.

“He suffers from Asperger’s personality disorder and the psychiatric unit will not take him,” Mr Mitchell added.

Throwing her hands up in the air, Judge Fahy said: “I’m told it’s for his own benefit, so I will activate the four months, reluctantly. Words fail me, almost.”

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