William Tyrrell’s foster mother files for Section 14 mental health

William Tyrrell’s foster mother has denied her Section 14 mental health claim.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, allegedly kicked and attacked a child with a wooden spoon.

She appeared at Parramatta Local Court with her partner.

Both of William Tyrrell’s foster parents will have to wait until January 2023 to defend the charges.

Usual assault charges

The foster mother was charged with simple assault in October 2021.

Police facts say the woman kicked a girl in the thigh, causing “pain, discomfort and bruising.”

The girl was also allegedly hit with a wooden spoon.

The psychologist’s report suggests the foster mother kicked the girl because she believed she would kick another child.

This is known as self-defense or defense of another. This is a complete defense to assault under section 418 of the Crimes Act 1900.

Police also alleged that the foster mother verbally abused the child over a period of time. She is said to have told a friend: “I have to break her.”

The presiding magistrate said: “It appears that the alleged victim has begun to act to some degree.”

The foster mother was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and PTSD. His Honor found that her mental conditions appeared to be related in part to the “difficult relationship she had with her mother and the loss of her mother in recent years … in quite difficult circumstances”.

The court found that the foster mother was unlikely to reoffend.

When applying the factors under Section 15 from Mental Health and Cognitive Disability Forensic Provisions Act 2020 the court indicated it would impose a community corrections order if she was convicted.

Ultimately, he ruled that the public interest was best served by dealing with the matter at law, rather than diverting the foster mother under mental health legislation.

The section 14 mental health application was formally refused.

As such, the matter will return to Parramatta Local Court in January 2023 for a protected hearing.

Foster father charged with intimidation and simple assault. He pleaded not guilty to both crimes.

Section 14 Application for mental health

If the section 14 mental health petition is granted, then the charges will be dismissed pursuant to Mental Health and Cognitive Disability Forensic Provisions Act 2020

A “section 14 application” is a mental health application to dismiss criminal charges without a conviction or finding of guilt. It is usually conditional on a person complying with a mental health treatment or support plan, which can last up to 12 months.

To get a successful Section 14 application, you must satisfy the court of the following criteria:

  1. You have a mental disability or cognitive impairment and
  2. It is more appropriate to deal with you under the section than otherwise in accordance with the law.

The biggest benefit of a Section 14 application is that it allows a person to avoid a criminal record, whether or not they are ultimately guilty of the crime(s).

Another advantage is that a section 14 application can be made at any time. This is advantageous because cases can take months or even years before reaching the final hearing date and a person being found “not guilty”. A Section 14 mental health application can be made early in the proceedings and, if successful, result in the case being dismissed without having to wait a long period of time.

Even if the section 14 application is unsuccessful, this will not affect the case as a whole. Whether a person pleads “not guilty” or pleads guilty, the court still has the power to make a section 14 order.

Under Section 15 from Mental Health and Cognitive Disability Forensic Provisions Act 2020. The Court will consider the following factors when deciding whether to grant a Section 14 application:

  1. The nature of your mental health or cognitive impairment,
  2. The nature, seriousness and circumstances of the alleged offence,
  3. Your suitability for the sentencing options available if convicted of the offence,
  4. Any significant change in your circumstances since the alleged offence
  5. Your criminal history,
  6. Regardless of whether you have previously received an order in the section or an equivalent section,
  7. Regardless of whether a treatment or support plan has been drawn up for you,
  8. Whether you are a danger to yourself, the complainant or a member of the public and
  9. All other relevant factors.

If a person breaches a section 14 order, you can be brought before the court and sentenced under the law. This means you could face a criminal record or more serious penalties, including possible jail time.

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