Athlone man deemed unfit to undergo trial

A court has released on bail a man who is mentally unfit for trial after hearing evidence there is no place for him in the Central Mental Hospital.

The 35-year-old man, with an address in Athlone, County Westmeath, appeared before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Tuesday on a charge of unlawful possession of knives.

His lawyers said the man is languishing in prison while waiting on a bed in the Central Mental Hospital (CMH ).

Dr Conor O’Neill, consultant psychiatrist at the CMH, told the court that the man is suffering from schizophrenia and is unfit to enter a plea in a criminal trial. He advised that the man be remanded in the CMH for an extended period.

Donal McGuinness, BL for the HSE, told the court that there is currently no bed in the hospital. He said the CMH operates at maximum capacity at all times. He said there is no sign of a bed becoming available in the immediate future.

Dr O’Neill told the court: “My understanding was there was a possibility of 10 new beds being open, that has not transpired”.

John Moher BL, defending, said he was objecting to his client being remanded for any more time in Cloverhill Prison.

“This has been going on since August. He is languishing and deteriorating in Cloverhill,” counsel said.

The court heard he is not taking his medication and his condition has deteriorated. He has made threats against staff members and members of the public.

Judge Martin Nolan said that the accused man had been deemed unfit to plead and the State could not keep him in custody. He said the man had difficult problems and they were difficult for society too but that he had an overriding right to liberty.

He released the accused on bail on condition he enter a bond and reside at a given address.

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