Doctors can force murderer who has ‘shut down’ to eat and take medicine – judge

  • london
  • February 17, 2023
  • Comments Off on Doctors can force murderer who has ‘shut down’ to eat and take medicine – judge
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Doctors can lawfully force a convicted murderer who has mental health difficulties to have food and medication, a judge has ruled at a hearing in a specialist court.

Sir Jonathan Cohen heard how the man, who is serving a life sentence at a prison in the north of England after being convicted of murder, had “shut down” and refused food.

He ruled that medics could “deliver” food and anti-psychotic medication via a nasogastric tube – and use restraint if necessary.

The judge decided that such moves were in the man’s best interests after concluding that he lacked the mental capacity to make decisions about treatment and eating.

He considered evidence at a hearing in the Court of Protection, where issues relating to people who may lack the mental capacity to take decisions for themselves are considered, in London, on Friday.

Lawyers representing bosses at a hospital where the man is being treated asked the judge to approve a “care plan”.

The man’s mother and lawyers appointed to represent him agreed with the doctors’ proposals.

A consultant psychiatrist who had examined the man, who is in his 30s, told Sir Jonathan that he presented as “quite shut down”.

Another specialist predicated a “life-threatening scenario” if medics did not give “sustained feed… now”.

Sir Jonathan was told that the man was currently “confined” at a hospital and handcuffed to a prison officer 24 hours a day.

Specialists had yet to diagnose the “precise” nature of the man’s mental illness, the judge heard.

They said he may have a “severe psychosis driven by depression”.

Sir Jonathan oversaw a public hearing but ruled that neither the man, medics involved, nor the NHS hospital trust responsible for his care could be named in media reports of the case.

The judge, who also oversees hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London, said he would review the case at another hearing next week.