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‘Pro Bono’ Court Of Appeal Case Highlights Issue Of Offenders’ Undiagnosed Mental Health Disorders

‘Pro bono’ Court of Appeal case highlights issue of offenders’ undiagnosed mental health disorders

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Adam Western, appearing ‘pro bono’ in the Court of Appeal, successfully appealed the sentence on an Eritrean man with a serious, previously undiagnosed mental health condition who attempted to murder a Coventry mother by repeatedly stabbing her.

The case highlighted the issue that offenders’ serious mental health problems are often not identified until their involvement in the criminal justice system.

The attempted murder was committed when Adam’s client was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia which long predated the attack but had remained undiagnosed. He was sentenced in October 2019 at Warwick Crown Court to a ‘hybrid’ order under section 45A of the Mental Health Act 1983 and a 20 year extended sentence of imprisonment. These orders have the effect of detaining an offender in hospital until they are well enough to complete their sentence in prison. A psychiatrist told the court in Warwick the defendant would not have committed the offence had he not been suffering with this disorder.

Adam renewed his application for leave to appeal the sentence after a Single Judge of the Court of Appeal had refused permission. As a result, Adam appeared ‘pro bono’ before the Court in a hearing on Friday 27th November 2020. ‘Pro bono’ literally means ‘for the public good’. The Court reduced the custodial element of the sentence.

‘As barristers we regularly spot undiagnosed mental health issues’, said Adam Western. ‘Our clients have often received no help for their condition and it is only when they end up in serious trouble that the need for help is identified. Understanding people and their behaviour is central to what we do.’

For details of the case and the hearing at Warwick Crown Court, visit: https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/coventry-news-crime-yosief-weldemaryam-17063355

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