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Broadmoor patient loses appeal bid

The first psychiatric patient to have an appeal against detention held in public has lost his legal battle to be freed from Broadmoor Hospital.

Albert Haines, 52, made legal history when he successfully argued that his case should be considered at an open hearing.

But a mental health tribunal ruled that the nature or degree of his mental disorder meant he should not be released from the high-security psychiatric institution.

Mr Haines was convicted of two counts of attempted wounding in September 1986 after he armed himself with a machete and a knife and tried to attack a doctor and a nurse at the Maudsley psychiatric hospital in Camberwell, south London.

Since then he has been detained under the Mental Health Act at Broadmoor in Crowthorne, Berkshire, and at Three Bridges medium secure unit in Ealing, west London.

The tribunal heard that he does not think there is anything wrong with him and believes his discharge from Broadmoor is "in the moral public interest". But it also received evidence from Dr Jose Romero-Urcelay, Mr Haines's responsible clinician, who argued that the patient remained a risk to the public and to himself.

The mental health tribunal panel's ruling, the first ever published, criticised Broadmoor for repeatedly moving Mr Haines between wards this year, which it described as destabilising and "extremely unhelpful".

The panel concluded: "Plainly these tribunal proceedings, being greatly extended by the issue of whether the hearing should be in public, have dominated Mr Haines's life in the last two years or so, really to the exclusion of everything else.

"It is in nobody's interest that Mr Haines should have to be detained, whether in high or medium security, for a day longer than absolutely necessary. In our judgment detention does remain necessary, and we conclude by observing that it is likely to remain so unless the treating team are able to find a way of engaging Mr Haines, and that this will require an equal commitment by Mr Haines himself."

An estimated 100,000 mental health tribunals have been held in the past seven years, but out of these there were only 10 applications for the hearing to be held in public. Only one previous application for an open session was granted, and this was later withdrawn.


From Belfast Telegraph