R.A. v Governor of Cork Prison

JudgeMs. Justice Costello
Judgment Date18 August 2016
Neutral Citation[2016] IEHC 504
CourtHigh Court
Docket Number[2016 No. 887 SS]
Date18 August 2016

[2016] IEHC 504


Costello J.

[2016 No. 887 SS]


R. A.

Constitutional Law – Art. 40 of the Constitution – Refusal of bail application – Reason of refusal –– Flawed proceedings – Fundamental denial of justice – Lack of treatment – Unlawful detention – Appropriate remedy

Facts: Following the refusal of the bail application of the applicant by the District Court without stating reasons for the same, the applicant sought relief under art. 40 of the Constitution. The applicant sought the said relief on the grounds that proceedings were flawed, that the detention following the said order was unlawful and that the lack of proper medical care rendered his continued detention unlawful.

Ms. Justice Costello refused the application of the applicant. The Court held that that failure to provide reasons for refusal of bail was an error within jurisdiction and the proceedings were not so sufficiently flawed to entitle the applicant to a relief pursuant to art. 40 of the Constitution. The Court found that the appropriate remedy was to bring an originating bail application to the High Court rather than habeas corpus. The Court held that anything other than only a complete failure to provide appropriate conditions or appropriate treatment could render a detention unlawful. The Court held that in the present case, the District Court had sufficient and relevant material to refuse bail and the medical conditions were not such so as to render the detention unlawful.

JUDGMENT of Ms. Justice Costello delivered on 18th day of August, 2016

The applicant is currently detained in Cork Prison pursuant to an order of District Judge Ní Chondúin of 5th August, 2016, whereby the learned judge refused the applicant bail.


The applicant appeared before the District Court on 13th March, 2016, in respect of a charge of theft contrary to s. 4 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001, in relation to the alleged theft of a video camera valued at €1,500.00. On that occasion, he was granted bail and required to return before the District Court on 23rd March, 2016. He did not attend. A warrant issued in respect of the applicant's failure to attend Cork District Court on that date.


The applicant was apprehended in Dublin on 14th July, 2016, and on 15th July, 2016, he was brought to Blanchardstown District Court on foot of the extant warrant. No application for bail was made on that occasion. He was remanded in custody to appear before Cork District Court on 20th July, 2016. In addition, the applicant was charged with a further charge of failing to appear on 23rd March, 2016, pursuant to s. 13(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1984, as amended.


On 20th July, 2016, the applicant was not produced in court by the Irish Prison Services and the court was informed that he was unable to come to court due to psychiatric illness. The case was remanded to Cork District Court to 28th July, 2016.


On 28th July, 2016, the applicant was produced in court. A medical report of Dr. Toal, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital, dated 26th July, 2016, was presented to the Court. Paragraph 10.4 of the report reads as follows:-

[The applicant] is currently acutely psychotic and in need of psychiatric admission to facilitate appropriate treatment to prevent further deterioration in his presentation. [The applicant] has been placed on the waiting list for admission to the Central Mental Hospital under section 15 of the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006.

I am advised there is no admission bed currently available at the Central Mental Hospital. In the interim he will continue to be reviewed on a regular basis by the prison in reach psychiatric team at the receiving prison. He is currently placed on D2 wing, a wing for vulnerable prisoners. He has not been compliant with his prescribed antipsychotic medication over the past week.

[The applicant] is currently acutely psychotic and in need of psychiatric admission to facilitate appropriate treatment to prevent further deterioration in his presentation. In the event that [the applicant] were to be granted bail or other non-custodial disposal, he has been referred for admission to Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown, Dublin 15.

His treating team in Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown Hospital have advised (26th July 2016.) that they are prepared to admit him as soon as an admission bed is available for him.

It would be helpful from a psychiatric perspective were any conditions attached to bail or other non-custodial disposal to include that he:

1. Agree to be transported from Cloverhill Prison to the Department of Psychiatry Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown, by Irish Prison Service staff and members of the Court Liaison Service or the HSE assisted admission teamat such time as an admission bed becomes available.

2. Remain there until medically discharged (i.e. not abscond from hospital).’


The applicant's solicitor, Mr. Edmund Burke, swore the affidavit grounding the application pursuant to Article 40 on behalf of the applicant. He did not give any details of the application for bail made on behalf of the applicant on 28th July, 2016. At para. 12 of his affidavit, he stated that:-

‘… the judge indicated that he was not willing to grant bail to the Applicant as it was a matter for the prison as to whether or not they wished to send the Applicant to hospital or not.’


In the event, District Judge Malone remanded the applicant in custody to 10th August, 2016.


At a date not identified by Mr. Burke, he spoke with Dr. O'Neill, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital, concerning the applicant. Mr. Burke stated that he was informed that there was now a bed available for the applicant in James Connolly Memorial Hospital in Blanchardstown, Dublin and that Dr. O'Neill recommended that the applicant take up this bed in order to receive treatment. Dr. O'Neill wrote a letter dated 4th August, 2016 to Mr. Burke stating:-

Further to my recent psychiatric report prepared for Cork District Court, I am writing at your request to confirm that [the applicant] remains unwell and in need of psychiatric admission. If bailed, I have contacted the Department of Psychiatry in James Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown, who advise that they will reserve an admission bed for [the applicant] should he be granted bail on 5th August, 2016. The admission would be under the Mental Health Act 2001.

In the event that the bed reserved were not to be available until later in the day, it would be helpful were conditions attached to bail or other non-custodial disposal to include that [the applicant] agree to be transported by prison staff or Gardaí to the Department of Psychiatry in James Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown, at such a time as a bed becomes available.


Mr. Burke sought to have the matter relisted before the District Court and it was relisted on 3rd August, 2016. He said that he outlined the background to District Judge Ní Chondúin and informed the Court that he wished to make a bail application on behalf of the applicant. District Judge Ní Chondúin relisted the matter and adjourned the case to 5th August, 2016, and indicated that the application could be dealt with by video link.


The Digital Audio Recording of the hearing on 5th August, 2016, was made available to this Court together with a transcript of the proceedings. Mr. Burke made an application for bail on the basis of Dr. O'Neill's letter and submitted that the conditions suggested should be conditions of bail if granted. It is clear that bail was sought in order that the applicant might receive treatment in a psychiatric hospital.


Inspector Feargal Foley, on behalf of the State, accepted that the applicant was in need of psychiatric help. He stated that his view was that once the applicant was remanded in custody lawfully that it is then a matter for the Prison Governor to resolve his medical issues and that he can be transferred to any medical facility when he is in custody.


The following exchange then occurred:-

‘Judge: and that's the way I'm going to go.

Mr. Burke: For the record, you are leaving it for the prison authorities

Judge: Murmurs assent,

Mr. Burke: Just formally Judge, for

Judge: I refuse bail.

Mr. Burke: Thank you.

Judge: You can take it to the High Court’.


The matter was let stand for a short time while Mr. Burke took instructions from his client. When the matter resumed, District Judge Ní Chondúin confirmed that she was refusing bail and she would direct urgent medical attention be provided to the applicant.


The following points emerge from this exchange:-

(i) The application was an application for bail in respect of an accused person who had been remanded in custody.

(ii) In respect of the original charge, he had been granted bail but had failed to attend on 23rd March, 2016.

(iii) A bench warrant had issued on that date and the applicant had been taken into custody pursuant to that warrant on 14th July, 2016.

(iv) He has been in custody since 15th July, 2016.

(v) An application for bail was refused on 28th July, 2016. The court had the report of Dr. Toal of 26th July, 2016.

(vi) The letter from Dr. O'Neill of 4th August, 2016, was handed into the Court on 5th August, 2016. It is not clear whether the report of Dr. Toal was provided to District Judge Ní Chondúin.

(v) No evidence was given by the State in opposition to the application for bail.

(vi) The objection of the State to bail was not on the basis of s. 2 of the Bail Act 1997, or that refusal of bail was necessary to ensure attendance of the accused at trial or on the basis that refusal of...

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1 cases
  • S.M. v The Governor of Cloverhill Prison
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • December 7, 2020
    ...not have resource implications. 20 The above principles were applied by Costello J. in the case of RA v. The Governor of Cork Prison [2016] IEHC 504, a case similar to the present one, where the applicant was charged with theft, was remanded in custody and was then identified as being acute......

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