Ques­tions re­main on a trou­bled young life

The Sligo Champion - - OPINION - with PAUL DEER­ING

HE was de­scribed as a very trou­bled young man and this was clear to be seen each ti me he ap­peared at sittings of Sligo Distric t Court. And, the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem just wasn’t the place for Philip Lyons (29) to be dealt with and in fair­ness to all con­cerned with his wel­fare this was clearly recog­nised. His so­lic­i­tor Ger­ard McGovern, Sergeant Gerry Moy­lan and most par­tic­u­larly Judge Kevin Kil­rane showed Philip great com­pas­sion and strove to find a so­lu­tion to his prob­lems. It wasn’t easy.

The lo­cal men­tal health ser­vices were lashed by the Judge on sev­eral oc­ca­sions for lack of fore­sight and ac­tion. It seemed like an ar­du­ous process to get Philip the care he so badly needed. He spent many weeks and months on re­mand in prison when he should have been in hos­pi­tal. Mr McGovern said on sev­eral oc­ca­sions the sys­tem was let­ting Philip down.

Judge Kil­rane was very crit­i­cal of the way the lo­cal men­tal health ser­vice was deal­ing with Philip’s care in the ini­tial phase.

Lat­terly, Philip spent two years in the Cen­tral Men­tal Hos­pi­tal in Dublin and his re­mands back to the District Court were less fre­quent. When he did ap­pear he didn’t seem to be mak­ing progress.

There was even an ar­ranged su­per­vised meet­ing with his younger brother at Philip’s re­quest held in a room in the court­house but which didn’t work out well, the court heard. Philip had been an in­vol­un­tary pa­tient at the HSE’s men­tal health ser­vices at St Columba’s, Bal­ly­tiv­nan in re­cent months.

He was due be­fore the District Court last Thurs­day. His fa­ther, Philip se­nior was in at­ten­dance like he al­ways was every time his son was due to ap­pear. This time how­ever, Mr Lyons told Judge Kil­rane that his son had passed away sud­denly the pre­vi­ous Thurs­day, May 3rd. Philip had still been in the care of the HSE. Mr Lyons told Judge Kil­rane that it took the lo­cal ser­vices a long time to re­alise his son had men­tal health is­sues and he thanked the Judge for call­ing them to ac­count. Mr Lyons thanked the Judge for the com­pas­sion shown to his son when he ap­peared be­fore him.

In­deed, on many oc­ca­sions the Judge had called Philip for­ward to the wit­ness box to ask him how he was feel­ing and if he wanted to say any­thing to him.

And, it was this com­pas­sion which can some­times be lost in the cold and for­mal set­ting of a court­room that Mr Lyons wanted to thank the Judge for last Thurs­day.

Mr McGovern and Sgt Moy­lan were re­mem­bered to for their ef­forts in deal­ing with a young man whom Judge Kil­rane said had dif­fi­cul­ties which were ex­ac­er­bated by ad­dic­tion is­sues.

The Judge re­called how the lo­cal menatl health ser­vices were brought to court with much push­ing and shov­ing and re­called a doc­tor fi­nally be­ing present at a spe­cial night sit­ting. It was quite clear said the Judge that Philip needed to be ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal im­me­di­ately and yet it took a long time for the lo­cal ser­vices to be con­vinced of this.

They had been proved ab­so­lutely and ut­terly wrong in their judge­ment, said the Judge. Even­tu­ally, Philip spent two years in the Cen­tral Men­tal Hos­pi­tal and at best his con­di­tion had been sta­bilised and was dis­charged af­ter much treat­ment to be­ing an in­vol­un­tary pa­tient at St Columba’s.

Judge Kil­rane de­scribed Philip as a lovely young man but a very trou­bled one.

“I could see that he was men­tally tor­tured and was tor­mented when he was here in court,” he said. He added: “I think the sit­u­a­tion was per­ma­nent, his tor­tured mind and that’s a ter­ri­ble thing to say.”

Judge Kil­rane ex­tended sym­pa­thy to Mr Lyons on his sad loss. His wife, Maria had passed away two years ago. The Judge told Mr Lyons that he could only wish that he was able to move for­ward with his life and wished him well.

“You have done every­thing a par­ent could do and more. The dif­fi­cul­ties were there and just would not go away,” said Judge Kil­rane. He thanked Sgt Moy­lan for his ef­forts say­ing he had a dif­fi­cult balanc­ing act between minding Philip and the public. Mr McGovern too had acted above and be­yond the call of duty.

“We all did the best we could but un­for­tu­nately it could only be taken so far. It’s a very sad story,” said the Judge.

And, in­deed it is. The charges be­fore the court were then for­mally struck out. There will be lots of ques­tions to be asked about the in­ter­ac­tion of Philip Lyons with the men­tal health ser­vices in Sligo.

Will they ever be an­swered?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.