Attorneys to work out order for release of mentally ill arsonist

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CONVICTED arsonist will be remanded to the St Ann’s Mental Hospital until his return to court next month as his attorneys and those for the State work on a draft order to facilitate his eventual release from custody.

And, before the judge presiding over his sentencing review signs off on the order, she first wants to hear from the mental health professionals from the hospital to determine the risk of him re-offending and posing a threat to the public.

He suffers from schizophrenia and the judge said she did not want to assume a mental health issue translated to criminality.

Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds is tasked with imposing conditions for Kerry Gour’s release.

She has expressed some concern about the court’s jurisdiction to micromanage Gour’s mental health treatment. She also wants to ensure that the court does not impose conditions that should be dealt with by the relevant authorities, such as the probation officers department and the mental health doctors who, she said, had more powers than the court under the Mental Health Act.

Gour had been previously placed on a bond after he pleaded guilty to setting fire to his mother’s house in 2005.

Because of a breach, he returned to court for sentencing for arson.

Already, a private facility in Point Fortin has been identified to facilitate his transition, but at a previous hearing, the judge said she wanted to ensure certain conditions can be met before she gives her final decision. Gour has previously said he preferred to remain at St Ann’s Hospital since he was treated “like family” there and was also given three square meals a day.

In November, the judge said the time had come for Trinidad and Tobago to “get with international standards” for treating prisoners with mental illnesses.

Gour’s attorney Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan said his particular illness must be monitored and this was one of the issues of concern in arriving at a suitable order for his release.

She said the parties had to ensure there was no risk to society of his reoffending.

Ramsumair-Hinds has adjourned the matter to March 9, to allow attorneys to revisit their draft order.

“I worry we might be making things more difficult that it needs to be.” The judge also said she did not want to appear to be “passing the buck” since if he remained a threat, he remained an issue for the criminal court but she wants to be clear of where the court’s remit ends and that of the mental health officials began.

Gour appeared virtually from the Eastern Correctional Rehabilitation Centre.

Gour is also represented by attorney Saskia Bachan. The State is represented by prosecutor Danielle Thompson.

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