A Wanaka man found to be mentally unfit to plead to charges
in the Queenstown District Court a week ago is still
''languishing'' in a remand cell in Invercargill Prison,
despite recommendations he be sent to Dunedin's Wakari
On April 12, Peter John Barratt (72) was charged with
resisting, assaulting and threatening to kill Senior
Constable Sean Hurley, of Wanaka, threatening to kill his
children, and also threatening to kill Constable Peter Reed.
On June 4, Judge Christina Cook found Mr Barratt unfit to
plead after receiving reports from a psychiatrist and a
psychologist, who considered he should undergo further
assessment in a secure unit at Wakari Hospital.
However, Judge Cook noted no bed was available and her only
option was to remand him in custody - back to the remand cell
at Invercargill Prison where he has spent the last two
He is due to appear in the Invercargill Court again today.
His lawyer, Nic Soper, told the Otago Daily Times yesterday
he was still waiting to hear that a bed had become available.
He described the situation as ''most unsatisfactory'' given
Mr Barratt ''hasn't been convicted of anything and in fact
has been assessed as not being mentally capable of even
entering a plea.
''He should be in a facility where he is receiving
appropriate care and treatment but because of the inability
of the DHB to be able to allocate space for him, he is in
custody in prison.''
Mr Soper considered a remand cell had been the appropriate
place for Mr Barratt up until last week's court appearance.
''But once the assessment was made and the court determined
he was unfit to plead, then he should have been immediately
transferred to a care facility because he is a person that
has not been convicted of any offence.''
Mr Soper said the inability of the DHB to provide a bed left
Mr Barratt effectively in ''no man's land''.
Although Mr Barratt was receiving some care from the mental
health team and the psychiatric nurse at Invercargill Prison,
his family was ''not surprisingly concerned'' Mr Barratt
''still languishes in prison rather than being transferred to
an appropriate care facility,'' Mr Soper said.
The DHB did not respond to ODT questions about the
availability of a bed for Mr Barratt.
In 2012 the DHB consulted the public with its ''Raise Hope''
mental health and addiction draft strategic plan.
The plan identified ''gaps'' in various mental health
services but found there were ''no significant gaps'' in
services for offenders in the adult criminal justice system
and ''alleged offenders with mental illness and addictions''.