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
– won 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
– 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.