Violent sex offender may be sent to Britain

  • Heading abroad: Merrick Seaman may be sent to British hospital

    Heading abroad: Merrick Seaman may be sent to British hospital

The Supreme Court has opened the way for a violent child sex offender to be sent for detention and treatment at a British hospital.

However, the Government said last night that UK courts must give their approval to allow the transfer.

Puisne Judge Shade Subair found that Merrick Seaman, 33, can be sent overseas for care and treatment based on expert opinion of his mental health.

She said in a written judgment: “The wider purpose is to protect the community from further harm, which Seaman would likely cause if not further detained and treated.”

Mrs Justice Subair added: “It would be irresponsible for this court to impose an artificial time limit on the period of Seaman’s hospital detainment overseas merely for the sake of defining his term of detention.

“However, this court will review and monitor his progress by receipt of progress reports from the applicants at six-month intervals.

“A court hearing review on Seaman’s mental health prognosis shall also be held one year from now.”

Mrs Justice Subair said that Seaman should be sent to St Andrew’s Healthcare in Northampton, England, for hospital detention and treatment as soon as possible.

Seaman was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2011 for a serious sexual assault on a five-year-old girl the previous year.

Then Chief Justice Richard Ground ruled the offender should serve his sentence at Westgate prison rather than be subject to a Mental Health Act order.

Seaman was eligible for parole in April 2013, but it was recommended that his release should be delayed until the risk of him committing further offences was reduced.

Seaman was given another psychiatric review the next year after he said: “I intend to go on a killing spree when I get out of jail.”

He was convicted of wounding another inmate and had another nine months added to his sentence in 2016.

Seaman’s earliest possible release date was June 15, but the Government moved him to the Co-Educational Facility on June 13 so he could be detained under the Mental Health Act.

The Supreme Court judgment released this week, from which some material had been removed, said the Ministry of Health and the Bermuda Hospitals Board sought a hospital detention order to allow Seaman to be moved to a UK hospital.

A risk assessment by British psychologist Emcee Chekwas recommended that Seaman receive further treatment as there was a “high risk” of further offences.

Dr Chekwas said: “He is likely to be best helped if placed in a medium secure forensic unit with specialist staff with ability to evaluate, diagnose and intervene appropriately to help him.

“His current incarceration in Westgate Correctional Facility is merely keeping him in custody, but not addressing the risks and needs he presents.

“The services likely to help him are currently unavailable in Bermuda and, even where intervention abroad could be secured, he will require long-term care.”

Katina Anagnostakis, a forensic psychiatrist at St Andrew’s Healthcare, said it was likely Seaman’s condition would deteriorate without further treatment.

Dr Anagnostakis said: “I believe that he will make rapid progress in a more therapeutic and less restricted setting in relation to stability of his mental state and functional rehabilitation.

“Progress in relation to developing his insight and engaging in offence-related work aimed at risk reduction will be more challenging for him given his history and will depend on his motivation.”

Dr Anagnostakis said St Andrews would admit Seaman if the courts in Bermuda and the UK approved the move.

National security minister Wayne Caines said Seaman remained in custody under the Mental Health Act, which allows for “specialised monitoring”.

The minister added: “Section C, the Remand Section of the Co-Educational Facility, has been designated a hospital for the purposes of detaining a person suffering from mental disorder, who cannot be securely detained in a conventional or current hospital facility.”

The problem of how to deal with prisoners with psychiatric illness has been discussed for years because of the island’s lack of high-security accommodation in a hospital.

The Bermuda Government signed an agreement for the transfer of prisoners to the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust in Britain in 2010.

An agreement with St Andrews was signed in 2017, but the BHB said at the time “complex legal considerations” still had to be resolved.

Parliament passed legislation in June to help those who need psychiatric treatment in a “medium or high-security unit not available in Bermuda”.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said prisoners sent to Britain would be treated free of charge under the National Health Service, but that the Government would have to foot the bill for treatment in other jurisdictions.

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