Joe Paraskeva

At the Court of Appeal today, Joe PARASKEVA has successfully appealled his sentence following an act of arson in a psychiatric unit where he was detained under the Mental Health Act.

The appeal comes after a hard-fought campaign by his mother, Linda MORGAN over a two year period and it is beyond doubt that today’s judgement imposes the correct legal framework as Joe’s condition continues to improve.  The campaign website is “Justice for Joe“.

I wrote a blog-post on this case last year to attempt to explain how it may have come to pass that Joe entered the criminal justice system as a convincted arsonist in the first place; especially when it was clearly very likely that his condition and detention under the Mental Health Act at the time of the offence played a significant role in the incident.

The essence of the issue appeared to be, reflected in last year’s post, that having been detained by two psychiatrists and an AMHP and the incident of arson having occured, the psychiatrist who subsequently gave opinion during the criminal investigation stated that despite Joe being ‘sectioned’ at the time, he was not suffering from a mental disorder.  As I wrote, “This may have been right or wrong, but it appears to have been the view offered” and as a result, Joe was prosecuted.  The court then reached its conclusion in terms of a sentence in light of that information.

Today’s Court of Appeal judgement appears to show that the psychiatric assessments which influenced the original criminal justice process were inadequate and the Lord Justices of Appeal were entirely satisfied that Joe “was suffering from a mental disorder both at the time of the offence and sentence.”  As such, he sentence has been changed to a Restricted Hospital Order, under section 37/41 of the Mental Health Act 1983.

This case therefore keenly highlights the importance of how the criminal justice and mental health systems interact, or how they some times do not interact effectively.

But most importantly, I’m glad to learn from the publicity around the Appeal, that Joe’s condition continues to improve and that he has now achieved the status of “patient” rather than “prisoner”.

The Mental Health Cop blog

Badgewon the ConnectedCOPS ‘Top Cop’ Award for leveraging social media in policing.
won the Digital Media Award from the UK’s leading mental health charity, Mind
– won a World of Mentalists #TWIMAward for the best in mental health blogs

ccawards2013 was highlighted by the Independent Commission on Policing & Mental Health
– was referenced in the UK Parliamentary debate on Policing & Mental Health
was commended by the Home Affairs Select Committee of the UK Parliament.


5 thoughts on “Joe Paraskeva

  1. Glad to see the right decision has been made at last, must admit i was always surprised by the first psychiatrists statement at the time, arson incidents are not uncommon in mental health units and yes people can have a mental disorder and still be responsible for their actions but in this case if he thought he didn’t have a mental disorder then he should of been taken off the section as the criteria no longer applied can’t have it both ways.

  2. I’ve been following Joe’s story for a long time and went to Downing Street with Linda and others last year. I actually shed a tear when i read about yesterday’s result, justice has been a very long time coming.

    1. Agreed – I can see how it all came about and I think one of the least discussed aspects of the MH / CJ interface is the issue of how / whether / what opinion the police / CPS are given by MH professionals when making investigative and prosecutorial decisions. It shows in this case, that you shouldn’t just rely upon one psychiatrist as the “not mentally disordered” verdict appears to have potentially perverted the trajectory and resulted in a prosecution which might not have needed to occur at all; AND / OR a sentencing outcome that certainly would have been different even if the prosecution had been deemend necessary.

      I can’t wait to get my hands on the court judgement.

  3. The interface between the criminal justice, mental health and social care systems has got to be right. We all work with people and should spend a lot less less time arguing with each other about whose responsibility these people are and a little more time working together to get the right results for them. Great blog, keep up the good work.

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