Judge calls for action on mental health provision

The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.
The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.

A judge has called on politicians to ‘address the lack of mental health provision in this country’ after the election.

District Judge Barney McElholm made the comment as 23-year-old Eugene Roddy appeared at Derry Magistrates Court.

Roddy, of The Meadows, is convicted of assaulting his father on November 24, last year.

He was convicted on the tendered evidence in the case.

The court heard that the defendant has mental health issues and was ‘very unwell’ at the time of the incident.

Defence solicitor Paddy Kelly said Roddy’s father had been trying to get his son help the day before the assault.

He said there were fitness to plead issues in the case, but the magistrates court does not have a statutory power to deal with it.

Judge McElholm said such issues are becoming ‘more and more prevalent in this court. But this court is not set up on a statutory basis to deal with them’.

He said he accepts that the assault ‘was not intended and that the defendant was suffering from mental health issues at the time’.

The judge added: ‘Maybe once this election is over the legislature would look to deal with real problems and address the lack of mental health provision in this country legislatively’.

He convicted Roddy and imposed a conditional discharge for six months.

Judge McElholm also addressed the Roddy family and told them ‘I hope you get on better from here on in’.