Man sent from jail to Wakari

A Wanaka man with mental health issues has been sent to Dunedin's Wakari psychiatric hospital, to the relief of his lawyer. Peter John Barratt (72) has been on remand at Invercargill Prison since his arrest on April 12.

He faces charges of resisting, assaulting and threatening to kill Senior Constable Sean Hurley, of Wanaka, threatening to kill the policeman's children, and also threatening to kill Constable Peter Reed during an incident near Wanaka.

Last week, Judge Christina Cook found him 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.

But no bed was available and Judge Cook said her only option was to remand him back to Invercargill Prison.

In the Invercargill District Court yesterday, Judge Cook released Barratt on bail to Wakari. Barratt's lawyer, Nic Soper, of Queenstown, said after the hearing his client

was released into the care of Southern District Health Board mental health staff, who drove him to Dunedin. It was ''concerning'' Barratt had not gone to Wakari sooner.

''They can't do the assessments required in Invercargill. If they can do them at Wakari, then Wakari is the proper place for him.''

It was expected Barratt would be moved, when appropriate, to the psycho-geriatric ward at Dunedin Hospital, he said.

Asked how Barratt had taken the news of his transfer to Wakari, Mr Soper said his client was ''still very confused''.

Barratt was remanded to appear in the Queenstown District Court on July 14, by which time his mental health assessment was expected to be completed.

Mr Soper said he expected the charges against his client to be stayed that day - postponed temporarily or indefinitely - and for the court to decide where Barratt should go.

The options were for him to go home and be cared for, or to undergo continuing psychiatric treatment in a hospital or elsewhere.

- allison.beckham@odt.co.nz