New Zealand Police v RP [2020] NZYC 214

Published 01 October 2020

Fitness to stand trial — mental impairment — burglary — Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003, s 8A. The young person faced two charges of unlawfully entering a building, and one each of burglary and attempted burglary. Three health assessor reports were produced in order to determine the young person's fitness to stand trial under s 8A of the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003 ("the Act"). No definition is given in the Act for "mental impairment" but the term has been interpreted broadly in the courts to include conditions such as cognitive disorders and mental impairment as a result of degenerative condition and acquired brain injury. The report writers differed slightly in their diagnoses, but noted that the young person could have various types of conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder, foetal alcohol syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. They noted that he had impaired verbal communication and memory, which would make the court processes difficult to follow. The Judge concluded based on the reports that the young person had a mental impairment within the definition and that the young person was therefore unfit to stand trial. Judgment Date: 4 May 2020. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *