Court orders man with psychiatric illness to wear GPS tracking device

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The HSE has obtained a High Court order requiring a man with a psychiatric disorder to wear a tamper-proof GPS tracking device.

The order was one of several made in the interests of human safety and well-being by the President of the High Court, Madam Justice Mary Irvine, under scheduled guardianship proceedings.

Human psychiatric illness involves delusions and a compulsion to travel to isolated and remote environments, including a mountain, sometimes leaving their location immediately and spending the night outside without food, proper clothing, or a phone.

The court was told that the tracking device would help Gardaí locate him and return him to his high-level community support unit.

Winter is coming

The HSE request, supported by the man’s sister, his closest relative, comes following a deterioration in his physical health and longer absconscions in remote areas, from which he has sometimes returned to very poor physical condition.

Judge Irvine noted that winter was approaching and the evidence was that the man, in his 60s, tended to wander further and further away without proper clothing.

The purpose of the tracking device and other requested orders is to mitigate the risk to him so that he can continue to live in the community unit, she noted.

It issued the orders, including those authorizing, if necessary, the admission, assessment and treatment of the man in a psychiatric unit and authorizing Gardai to search, arrest and return the man to the community unit.

Medication

Applying for the prescriptions Thursday, Paul Brady BL, for the HSE, said the consultant treating the man had reported that drugs that had the effect of reducing his absconsciousness had to be reduced in recent years because they had led to the man with excessive sedation. Efforts to establish his whereabouts using cell phones were also unsuccessful.

A removable tracking device was tried earlier this year, but the man removed it during one of his suspicions, the lawyer said.

The man agreed earlier this month to wear a GPS tracking device that is difficult to remove without a release device, but his healthcare team felt that a court order directing him to continue wearing the device would help to make sure he does.

The man, due to his illness, has no control over his compulsions, Mr Brady said.

Voluntary

The man, who has a long history of mental illness and multiple psychiatric hospital admissions, had never been the subject of a compulsory admission order because he generally complied with voluntary admission requests, said declared the court.

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His court-appointed guardian ad litem said he hoped to meet the man next week to get his point of view properly.

The guardian said he understood the man would prefer not to be made a court ward because he believed it could result in his being sent to a psychiatric unit. His social worker and care team are trying to keep him in the least restrictive environment possible, the tutor said.

The warden said he hoped an explanation of the guardianship would help the man understand that what is on offer is now what he thinks it is.

Given the “life-threatening” scenarios of long disregard, it was difficult to object to the orders requested, the warden said. The man may wish to oppose the guardianship at some point, he stressed.


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