Henry’s Story

Henry was an overseas student living in Australia on a student visa and studying for his Masters degree at a local university. Henry had been treated in his home country for a mental illness and advised by his doctors that he was well enough to stop his medication.

When he arrived in Australia, Henry faced the stresses of full-time study, working part-time, living in a new residence and adjusting to a different culture. He soon experienced a re-occurrence of his mental health issues.

One night Henry was arrested by police after wandering into a stranger’s garage. Confused and disoriented, Henry struggled with police, accidentally striking one of the officers. He was arrested and charged with a number of offences, before being hospitalised under the Western Australian Mental Health Act, 2014.

Henry’s aunt contacted a lawyer at the Mental Health Law Centre for assistance in his case. Lawyers at the Centre wrote to police asking that they discontinue the charges due to Henry’s mental state at the time of his offences. The police were reluctant to drop his charges and the matters were set to be reviewed under a specified legal hearing.

During the hearing, the Court was required to decide whether Henry was either ‘criminally responsible’ or of ‘unsound mind’ at the time of the offences. The Mental Health Law Centre prepared written submissions for the Court and provided a copy to police and the prosecution.

After receiving the submissions, police changed their position and elected to drop Henry’s charges. Henry was free to go and continue his studies and now receives ongoing care from a community mental health service. He was especially grateful there would be no conviction on his record which might have impeded his ability to travel home.

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