Magistrate slams lack of help for mentally ill

A man with mental health and drug problems who headbutted a police officer was shown leniency by a magistrate this week.

Magistrate Maxanne Anderson sentenced Eric Richardson to two years probation on Wednesday.

She said: “I don’t want anyone to think that we, the Bench, are unsympathetic to situations like this one and defendants like Mr Richardson.

“I think it’s pathetic and sad that an island such as ours, that’s supposed to have so much wealth, that we have no facilities to assist someone like Mr Richardson with a clear diagnosis.”

Ms Anderson added: “We are failing our vulnerable persons in this island, and it seems only to be getting worse.

“I think we can sum it up in three words and they are ‘shame on us’.”

Richardson, 26, who is homeless, pleaded guilty to an assault on a police officer on January 30 while he was detained at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital for a mental health assessment.

The court heard that police handcuffed Richardson when he became “disruptive and aggressive”.

Richardson ran at one of the officers and headbutted him.

Simone Smith-Bean, for the defence, told the court that Richardson had a history of mental health and drug problems that could not be properly treated in Bermuda.

She added that her client had been detained at the hospital for eight hours “without assistance or the proper medication”.

She said: “Eight hours in holding is bad for anyone. I can only imagine what it’s like for a mental health patient.”

Ms Smith-Bean warned that Richardson would be a danger to himself if he remained in prison.

She added that he could not stay at his family home because of a restraining order granted to his mother.

Ms Anderson also heard that there was no mental health centre on the island that could hold a patient with a background of crime and drug abuse.

Kelly Medeiros, a court social worker, admitted it was “a sad state of not having the proper resources for people like Mr Richardson”.

Ms Anderson sentenced Richardson to probation on condition that he continued with treatment at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute psychiatric hospital.

He was also ordered to visit Court Services every day while he remained homeless, stay off drugs and have no contact with his mother.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

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