R v HJ [2019] NZYC 612

Published 17 February 2020

Fitness to stand trial — sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection — indecent assault — unlawfully getting into a motor vehicle — possession of instruments for conversion — aggravated robbery — unlawful taking a motor vehicle — endangering transport — reckless driving — Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003, ss 4 & 8A — Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 — Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, s 14 — Intellectual Disability (Compulsory Care and Rehabilitation) Act 2003. This hearing was to determine whether the young person was fit to stand trial on a raft of charges including sexual violation , indecent assault and aggravated robbery. Section 8A of the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003 sets out the process for determining if a person is unfit to stand trial. First, evidence must be given by two health assessors as to whether the defendant is mentally impaired. If the Court is satisfied by that evidence that the defendant is mentally impaired then each party will be given the opportunity to present evidence after which the Court will make and record a decision as to the defendant's fitness. Two medical professionals gave evidence and concluded that although the young person had no defined mental or intellectual disability, a variety of factors meant he was mentally impaired. These included fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), ADHD, conduct disorder, impaired verbal skills, memory difficulties, a head injury, history of drug use from age seven, exposure to family violence, anxiety, emotional dysregulation and low self-concept. The Judge was satisfied the young person's complex situation and needs meant he was not fit to stand trial. Judgment Date: 5 December 2019. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *