M.R v Cathy Byrne, Dr Fidelma Flynn and Sligo Mental Health Services

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeMr. Justice O'Neill
Judgment Date02 March 2007
Neutral Citation[2007] IEHC 73
Docket Number[2007 No. 117 SS],[No. 117 SS/2007]
CourtHigh Court
Date02 March 2007
R (M) v BYRNE (ADMINISTRATOR) & FLYNN (CLINICAL DIRECTOR SLIGO MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES)
IN THE MATTER OF AN ENQUIRY PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 40.4 OF
THE CONSTITUTION OF IRELAND

BETWEEN

M.R.
APPLICANT

AND

CATHY BYRNE, ADMINISTRATOR AND DR. FIDELMA FLYNN, CLINICAL DIRECTOR, SLIGO MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES, BALLYTIVNAN, CO. SLIGO
RESPONDENTS

[2007] IEHC 73

[No. 117 SS/2007]

THE HIGH COURT

Abstract:

Constitutional law - Legality of detention - Mental health - Mental Health Act, 2001 - Whether the detention of the applicant as an involuntary patient in the care of the respondents was lawful.

This case concerned an enquiry pursuant to Article 40.4 of the Constitution into the legality of the detention of the applicant by the respondents. The respondents certified that the applicant was detained pursuant to a "Renewal Order" made pursuant to section 15(2) of the Act of 2001, made on 21 December 2006, which Order was affirmed by a Mental Health Tribunal pursuant to s. 18(1) of the 2001 Act. The Renewal Order was made by Dr. O'Neill, who certified that in his opinion the applicant, who had been an involuntary patient in the respondent's care for the previous 11 years should continue to be detained for a period not exceeding 3 months on the basis that she suffered from a mental disorder of the type described in s. 3(1)(a) of the 2001 Act. Dr. O'Neill gave evidence before the Tribunal that the applicant's mental illness could also be categorised as "mental disorder" as defined in s. 3(1)(b) of the Act. The applicant accepted that she suffered from a mental illness for which she required inpatient treatment but she did not wish to be detained as an involuntary patient. The applicant submitted that the Renewal Order was invalid and was not made in accordance with law as there was no proper basis for the certification by Dr. O'Neill that due to illness, disability or dementia there was a serious likelihood of the applicant causing immediate and serious harm to herself or other persons. The applicant also challenged the decision of the Tribunal both in form and substance.

Held by O'Neill J. in determining that the applicant's detention was lawful: That at the time of the making of the Renewal Order Dr. O'Neill had been treating the applicant as an involuntary patient for in excess of four years and the evidence available to the Tribunal established that as of the date of the making of that Order the applicant was suffering from a very serious mental illness, which involved the offering of physical and verbal assaults to staff and other patients. Consequently, the Renewal Order was in all respects lawful and valid. Furthermore, the decision of the Tribunal affirming the Renewal Order was entirely valid both in substance and in form.

Reporter: L. O' S

CONSTITUTION ART 40.4

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S15(2)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S18(1)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 (COMMENCEMENT) ORDER 2006 SI 411/2006

MENTAL TREATMENT ACT 1945 S184

MENTAL TREATMENT ACT 1945 S72(2)

MENTAL TREATMENT ACT 1945 S72(4)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S3(1)(a)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S3(1)(b)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S18(5)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S3

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 PREAMBLE

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S3(1)(b)(i)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S3(1)(b)(ii)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S3(2)(i)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S4(1)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S15(1)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S15(3)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S16(1)(a)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S16(1)(b)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S16(2)(a)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S16(2)(b)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S16(2)(c)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S16(2)(d)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S16(2)(e)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S16(2)(f)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S17(1)(a)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S17(1)(b)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S17(1)(c)(i)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S17(1)(c)(ii)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S17(1)(c)(iii)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S33(3)(b)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S18(1)(a)(i)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S18(1)(a)(ii)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S18(1)(b)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S18(2)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S18(3)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S18(4)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S18(5)(a)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S18(5)(b)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S18(5)(c)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S18(5)(d)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S18(6)

GOODE v WATERFORD REGIONAL HOSPITAL & ST OTTERAN'S HOSPITAL 2005 3 IR 617

MENTAL TREATMENT ACT 1945 PART VIII

MENTAL TREATMENT ACT 1945 S241

MENTAL TREATMENT ACT 1945 S276

MENTAL TREATMENT ACT 1945 S283

MENTAL TREATMENT ACT 1945 S284

MENTAL TREATMENT ACT 1953

MENTAL TREATMENT (DETENTION IN APPROVED INSTITUTIONS) ACT 1961

MENTAL TREATMENT ACT 1961 S39

MENTAL TREATMENT ACT 1961 S41

CLARKE, IN RE 1950 IR 235

MENTAL TREATMENT ACT 1945 S165

CROKE v SMITH 1998 1 IR 101 1996/9/2829

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S15(4)

1

Mr. Justice O'Neilldelivered on the 2nd; day of March, 2007

2

On the 31 st January, 2007 on an ex-parte application on behalf of the applicant I directed an enquiry pursuant to Article 40.4 of the Constitution into the legality of the detention of the applicant by the respondents, and I directed the respondents to certify in writing the grounds upon which the applicant was detained. That enquiry proceeded at 11 a.m. on the 2 nd February, 2007.

3

The respondents certified that the ground upon which the applicant was detained was that she was detained pursuant to a "Renewal Order" made pursuant to s. 15(2) of the Mental Health Act, 2001 (hereinafter referred to as the Act), made on the 21 st December, 2006, which Renewal Order was affirmed by a Mental Health Tribunal pursuant to s. 18(1) of the Act on the 9 th January, 2007, both of which orders were said to have been made lawfully.

4

I concluded the enquiry on the 2 nd of February, 2007 by holding that the applicant's detention was lawful and hereunder I set out my reasons for that conclusion.

5

The applicant is 43 years of age and for most of her adult life she has suffered from serious mental illness. For most of the past eleven years she has been an involuntary patient in the care of the respondents and since 2002 has been detained pursuant to the relevant statutory provisions then operative, in a special care unit, as distinct form an open admission unit.

6

The Mental Health Act, 2001 (Commencement) Order 2006, (SI 411 of 2006) brought sections 6, 8 to 30 and 56 to 75 inclusive of the Act into operation on the 1 st November, 2006. At that time the applicant was detained by the respondents as a patient in the special care unit on foot of a Temporary Chargeable Patient Reception Order made pursuant to s. 184 of the Mental Treatment Act, 1945. This order authorised the detention of the applicant for a period of six months from the 21 st June, 2006. By virtue of the provisions of s. 72(2) of the Act the applicant's treatment and detention was authorised by virtue of the Act of 2001 until the expiration of that period of six months.

7

In accordance with the provisions of s. 72(4) of the Act, the detention of the applicant was referred to a Mental Health Tribunal by the Mental Health Commission to be reviewed as if it had been authorised by Renewal Order under s. 15(2) of the Act of 2001.

8

This Mental Health Tribunal met on the 20 th December, 2006 to review the detention of the applicant. The decision of this tribunal was to affirm the Admission Order on the grounds that the applicant suffered from a schizo affective disorder thatwas partially responded but continued to be associated with unstable and intrusive persecutory thoughts and limited insight.

9

The period specified in the Temporary Chargeable Patient Reception Order affirmed by the Tribunal expired on the 21 st December, 2006. On the 21 st December, 2006 Dr. Donagh O'Neill, Consultant Psychiatrist made a Renewal Order pursuant to the provisions of s. 15(2) of the Act of 2001. In this order, Dr. O'Neill certified that in his opinion the applicant should continue to be detained for a period not exceeding three months because she suffered from a mental disorder of the kind described in s. 3(1)(a) of the Act of 2001 and he further certified that his opinion was based upon the reason that the applicant continued to suffer from persecutory delusions, lacked insight, and was non-adherent in respect of treatment.

10

This Renewal Order of the 21 st December, 2006 was referred by the Mental Health Commission to a Mental Health Tribunal. As with the previous Mental Health Tribunal, Mr. Peter Flynn Solicitor was appointed as legal representative to represent the applicant. Dr. Eugene Hill, Psychiatrist was appointed to examine her and he carried out his examination on the 3 rd January, 2007 and furnished a written report on the 3 rd January, 2007. The Tribunal sat on the 9 th January, 2007. Its Chairman was John A. McCormack, a barrister, Dr. Mary MaGuire, a Consultant Psychiatrist and Mr. Eamon Boylan as the Tribunal Lay Member.

11

The proceedings of the Tribunal were attended by the applicant, and she was represented by Mr. Flynn. A written report from Dr. Eugene Hill was available but Dr. Hill did not attend in person. Dr. Donagh O'Neill was present in person and gave evidence to it. A written report dated 5 th January, 2006 was made available by Dr. O'Neill to the Tribunal. The applicant gave evidence to the Tribunal similar to that given to the previous Tribunal on the 20 th December, 2006 and it was to the effect thatshe accepted that she suffered from a mental illness for which she requited inpatient treatment but she did not wish to be detained as an involuntary patient and further did not wish to be treated in the special care unit. Dr. O'Neill's evidence to the Tribunal, was that the applicant suffered from a "mental disorder" as defined in s. 3(1)(a) of the Act of 2001 as already certified by him in the Renewal Order, but also that her mental illness was such that it could be categorised as "mental disorder" as defined in s. 3(1)(b) of the Act of 2001.

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