Mental Health Court dismissed more than half of cases: report

MORE than half the number of people referred to Queensland's Mental Health Court were found to be of unsound mind when they killed or tried to end the life of another person.

Over the same time period between 2011-2012, the court also dismissed 68% of the matters lawyers, patients themselves and medical professionals brought before it.

The Mental Health Court in Queensland involves a Supreme Court Justice, either Justice Ann Lyons or Justice David Boddice, sitting with two psychiatrists to assess a person's ability to be tried for crimes or to be in a mental health facility.

According to the Criminal Code, a person is not criminally responsible for an offence if at the time they were in such a mental state they were deprived of the capacity to understand or control what they were doing or know it was wrong.

A Mental Health Court annual report tabled in Parliament this week shows the court has dealt with more matters but dismissed more than half of them.

Out of the court's 191 findings it handed down, 81 involved matters being dismissed.

A majority of the cases that come before the court are referred by lawyers.

Twelves cases involving murder or attempted murder charges came before the court last financial year including one that was referred back to the standard judicial system.

In three murder cases the court found the accused was of unsound mind and in another case, the accused had a diminished responsibility.

The Mental Health Court made forensic orders, which puts the accused in a mental health facility involuntarily.

The Mental Health Review Tribunal can force the person to face court again if they are deemed fit to face trial after treatment.In all five of the attempted murder cases the court dealt with, all people were found to be of unsound mind and were subjected to forensic orders.

Last financial year the Director of Mental Health reported an 11% increase in the number of people brought from court or jail to a mental health facility.



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