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Vulnerable man self-harmed in custody cell after police search missed razor

Dungannon Court

A vulnerable man with a history of mental health issues, managed to conceal a razor blade from police which he used to self-harm while in custody.

Although later detained in hospital under the Mental Health Order, he has since been arrested again and apparently had no psychiatric support since discharge.

The defendant, who is not being identified at this time, refused legal assistance telling a special sitting of Dungannon Magistrates’ Court on New Year’s Day: “I think I can make a true reflection of my feelings and thoughts better myself.”

It is alleged he breached a non-molestation order on November 11 and again on Christmas Eve.

A police officer explained in the first instance the defendant was arrested after entering an area from which he is excluded.

While in custody, he was noted rubbing the cell walls, it is was discovered he had cut himself and was smearing blood while stating: “I love my family.”

The officer said: “I believe there was a razor blade found on his person which had not been located during an initial search.”

He became aggressive before being transferred to hospital by ambulance, where he was detained.

When later discharged, the defendant failed to attend with police on 16 December and was circulated as wanted.

On Christmas Eve police were alerted to a further incident when, shortly before midnight, he put cards containing cheques and cash through the letterbox of a house.

Opposing bail, the officer stated: “There is concern of his mental health. There have been reports of calls to family members saying he is going to commit suicide. Hospitals have also phoned police to report they cannot restrain him, and he is going to self-harm. We fear he has no regard for his own safety. Family members fear what he will do to himself or them.”

Speaking softly and politely, the defendant, who had a notable injury to his forehead, asked to be released on bail.

When District Judge Michael Ranaghan enquired about the injury the defendant replied: “I slipped in the cell and hit my head on the wall. I was in a bit of an anxious state at the time. I know it doesn’t look good. If I have upset things, I apologise. I will not do it again.”

He advised he is not currently seeing any health professional.

The judge said: “Given your presentation, I am concerned about your mental health. There’s a risk you’ll reoffend and you’ll go untreated.”

He refused bail but invoked a court order known as an Article 51 remand, whereby the defendant must be assessed by a mental health practitioner on arrival in custody.

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