A mentally ill man who spent the last 23 years behind bars has been freed.
52 year old Leslie Spaulding of Bath St. Thomas was freed in the St. Thomas Parish Court on January 29 following representation from the Legal Aid Council.
A statement from the Justice Ministry says Mr. Spaulding was charged for assault occasioning bodily harm in 1995, but was deemed unfit to plead and was subsequently remanded.
Family members made contact with the Legal Aid Council last November and on December 5, last year an application to re-list was filed in the parish court on behalf of Mr. Spaulding, who had been in custody for 23 years.
As part of its project to assist all mentally ill persons in correctional facilities, it was revealed that Mr. Spaulding’s matter fell off the court list in September of 2013 and since then has been languishing in the system as he did not have his day in court.
When Mr. Spaulding appeared in court, the judge was advised that no fitness to plea report was available, as the department of corrections is without an available consultant psychiatrist.
To prevent further remand of Mr. Spaulding, the Legal Aid Council took steps to engage a private Psychiatric Consultant Dr. Geoffery Walcott, who attended the court, interviewed the client and produced a report for the judge.
Mr. Spaulding was then released into the custody of family members who have undertaken to keep, care and ensure that his medication is administered and medical appointments kept.
He was represented by Attorney-at-Law and Executive Director of the Legal Aid Council, Hugh Faulkner.
He says persons who have mentally ill relatives in correctional facilities and are without representation should contact the council.
Mr. Faulkner says up to early last year there were more than three hundred such persons in the system.