Unfit for trial but remanded as hospital full

The 72-year-old man who allegedly attacked a Wanaka police officer earlier this year was yesterday found by Judge Christina Cook to be unfit to plead to six charges he faces as a result of the incident.

Peter John Barratt faces charges of driving on the Makarora-Lake Hawea Rd with an excess breath-alcohol level of 751mcg, having been convicted twice previously; assaulting Senior Constable Sean Hurley; resisting Snr Const Hurley; threatening to kill Snr Const Hurley and his daughters and threatening to kill Constable Reed, all on April 10 at Wanaka.

Barratt, of Wanaka, has been in custody since April 12.

In the Queenstown District Court yesterday, defence counsel Nic Soper said two reports had been prepared - one by a registered psychologist and the other by a consultant psychiatrist. Both indicated Barratt suffered a ''mental impairment''.

The recommendation was for him to undergo further assessment at Wakari Hospital in Dunedin, either in the psychogeriatric unit or in the secure facility.

However, no beds were available at present. Judge Cook said both reports had concluded Barratt suffered from ''challenges which mean that he is not fit to stand trial'', a view she supported.

With no beds available at Wakari and doubts whether Southland Hospital would be suitable given its lack of a secure facility, the only option was to remand him in custody until a bed at Wakari became available.

''What really worries me today is that Mr Barratt has been in custody for a lengthy period of time, since April 12.''

Judge Cook remanded Barratt in custody until June 12, to reappear in the Invercargill District Court.

If a court date or a bed became available sooner, she would deal with the matter.