Court moves to ensure appropriate treatment

Defence lawyers and a police prosecutor worked together with Judge Haamiora Raumati to ensure a man whose offending was due to his schizophrenic illness, was dealt with appropriately by the court.

The man faced two charges of possessing offensive weapons arising out of two incidents — one in which he carried a knife, the other a machete.

He was found not guilty by way of insanity.

His name was suppressed, mainly to protect the interests of his young child.

Judge Raumati said he wanted to ensure the man was released from custody as soon as possible, but also that his offending was appropriately addressed and his health properly managed.

There were too many mentally-ill people in prisons. If deemed guilty, this man would have already served sufficient time, particularly given the charges had been reduced.

Retaining him any longer would have been unlikely to assist his health, the judge said.

Working his way through legislative requirements and considering possible options, a process that required input from several people, the judge applied the insanity verdict, then followed a recommendation in a specialist psychiatric report to impose a compulsory treatment order.

The man was released immediately but had to confirm to the judge he would comply with the treatment order.

Counsel Alistair Clarke, who had been the man’s mental health advocate for more than a decade, was involved with other senior counsel in the afternoon’s discussions.

The man’s health was best managed when he was routinely monitored as part of a compulsory order, Mr Clarke said.

A difficulty of the illness was that the man was unable to identify for himself the times when he was becoming unwell.

His symptoms included paranoia, irritability and auditory hallucinations that led him to delusional thoughts, particularly about his partner’s safety or her fidelity.

It seemed these latest offences occurred when the man was on an adequate treatment regime, except for a locum clinician’s decision to reduce his medication — understandably so because the man often reported problems with side-effects.

However, that meant the man then descended into psychotic thought patterns which, without routine monitoring, had not been identified, Mr Clarke said.

Defence lawyers and a police prosecutor worked together with Judge Haamiora Raumati to ensure a man whose offending was due to his schizophrenic illness, was dealt with appropriately by the court.

The man faced two charges of possessing offensive weapons arising out of two incidents — one in which he carried a knife, the other a machete.

He was found not guilty by way of insanity.

His name was suppressed, mainly to protect the interests of his young child.

Judge Raumati said he wanted to ensure the man was released from custody as soon as possible, but also that his offending was appropriately addressed and his health properly managed.

There were too many mentally-ill people in prisons. If deemed guilty, this man would have already served sufficient time, particularly given the charges had been reduced.

Retaining him any longer would have been unlikely to assist his health, the judge said.

Working his way through legislative requirements and considering possible options, a process that required input from several people, the judge applied the insanity verdict, then followed a recommendation in a specialist psychiatric report to impose a compulsory treatment order.

The man was released immediately but had to confirm to the judge he would comply with the treatment order.

Counsel Alistair Clarke, who had been the man’s mental health advocate for more than a decade, was involved with other senior counsel in the afternoon’s discussions.

The man’s health was best managed when he was routinely monitored as part of a compulsory order, Mr Clarke said.

A difficulty of the illness was that the man was unable to identify for himself the times when he was becoming unwell.

His symptoms included paranoia, irritability and auditory hallucinations that led him to delusional thoughts, particularly about his partner’s safety or her fidelity.

It seemed these latest offences occurred when the man was on an adequate treatment regime, except for a locum clinician’s decision to reduce his medication — understandably so because the man often reported problems with side-effects.

However, that meant the man then descended into psychotic thought patterns which, without routine monitoring, had not been identified, Mr Clarke said.

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