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New Zealand Police v French [2022] NZDC 7447

Published 22 September 2022

Judge-alone trial — application for trial — fitness to stand trial — assault — assault with intent to injure — mental health — remand in custody — “desirable” — court-ordered assessment — Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003, s 38. The defendant faced two charges of assault, and applied for a stay of proceedings on the grounds of undue delay. The Court had previously ordered psychiatric reports to determine whether the defendant was fit to stand trial. Meanwhile the defendant had breached his bail and was remanded in custody, pending admission to a mental health facility for assessment and treatment. A consultant psychiatrist and the defendant's treating clinician submitted that the court proceedings could not continue until the defendant was able to be admitted to hospital. By the time of the current proceedings the defendant had been remanded in custody for more than three months, while acutely unwell. No hospital beds were available in the area where the defendant was remanded. The Court found that it would not be practical to grant a stay, as that would result in the defendant being released from prison while acutely unwell and in need of mental health treatment. Therefore the Court opted to make an order that the defendant be admitted to hospital for treatment and assessment. The order was effective from five days after being made, to give psychiatric services time to find an available hospital bed. The Court directed that a copy of the judgment be sent to the Director General of Health, to highlight the nationwide shortage of hospital beds. Judgment Date: 29 April 2022. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *