Log In

Reset Password

Senior Magistrate renews criticism of Island’s care for mentally ill defendants

Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner has again lamented the court’s limited powers under the law to deal with defendants who are mentally ill.

He was commenting on the case of a 33-year-old Southampton man, who is also a Mid Atlantic Wellness Institute outpatient, who admitted using threatening words to his mother.

The incident happened on December 29 at a residential care facility for the elderly operated by the defendant’s mother.

Paul Williams admitted using threatening words after he demanded money from his mother.

Crown counsel Susan Mulligan told Magistrates’ Court that police officers responded to a report of an annoying person at the home at 6.28pm.

The defendant had left the scene by the time officers arrived but returned again after they left.

When called again, the officers arrived to find Mr Williams at the scene where he appeared to be aggressive and agitated.

When cautioned that he was under arrest Williams tried to kick his mother and said he was going to kill her.

Mr Warner, who noted that he has seen Williams in his court before said: “Mental health philosophies and the law limits what can be done.

“We’ve been asking for a secure area for mentally ill patients for years and we haven’t got that.

“I don’t think people should be warehoused but in cases like this we see where it spills out into society.

“This man is violent and there was more than one potential victim at this residential care facility with vulnerable patients.”

Williams told the court that he lives alone at a home on Brighton Hill, in Devonshire, in a house that was given to him by his mother.

He also insisted that his mother was not afraid of him.

Mr Warner said: “This is a classic case of a mentally ill patient living on his own and not taking his medication and drinking alcohol.

“He needs to be locked down and stabilised without the alcohol otherwise it’s a vicious circle.”

He said he was inclined to send the defendant to jail for 30 days where “the Commissioner of Corrections has powers to send him to MAWI for treatment”.

“At least for 30 days he will have no alcohol, but that’s a short-term fix to an ongoing problem,” said Mr Warner.

Ultimately he remanded Williams in custody and ordered a social inquiry report, a psychiatric and a psychological report. The case was adjourned for mention on January 31.

When contacted by

The Royal Gazette, Commissioner Edward Lamb conceded “the matter of mental health still remains an ongoing issue”.

“I hasten to add that this is not just an issue for Corrections but also for Bermuda in general.

“The matter of inmates who struggle with mental/psychological problems is one that is closely monitored by our staff, in conjunction with our colleagues at MAWI,” said Mr Lamb.

While reluctant to discuss specific cases, he did provide a general statement.

“The Department of Corrections has a Memorandum of Understanding with MAWI which facilitates the provision of psychiatric treatment for inmates who are deemed to be in need of such treatment.

“Under the provisions of this MOU, inmates who, as a result of assessments by our Medical Team, are deemed to be in need of psychiatric treatment are transferred to a secure ward at MAWI, where they are treated and regularly assessed.”

In the case of Williams, that assessment will be made while he is on remand at Westgate Correctional Facility.

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published January 02, 2013 at 9:41 am (Updated January 02, 2013 at 9:40 am)

Senior Magistrate renews criticism of Island’s care for mentally ill defendants

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon