A WARRNAMBOOL magistrate has blasted the justice system which he says continues to use police cells as de facto prisons.
Sitting Warrnambool magistrate Jonathan Klestadt yesterday described it as a scandalous situation.
He also warned that it was only a matter of time before offenders were released by courts on bail because of the inadequacies of justice system resources.
Mr Klestadt made the comments after hearing that Warrnambool man Timothy Hutchins had not been psychiatrically assessed because he was held in the Warrnambool police station cells for 10 days before being transferred into the general prison system.
That delay left mental health agency Forensicare insufficient time to prepare a report for the court. Mr Klestadt said the court had been informed it took six weeks to prepare the detail reports but that was from the time a psychiatrist could see a prisoner and not the time spent in custody.
The magistrate said Hutchins was taken into custody on April 9 and spent 42 days in custody while a report was to be prepared.
Hutchins claimed to have been jilted in a love triangle and has vowed to move interstate after being spurned by his ex.
Yesterday Hutchins, 54, of Gladstone Street, Warrnambool, pleaded guilty in Warrnambool Magistrates Court to eight counts of breaching intervention orders
He was also previously jailed for one month, which was suspended for 12 months.
Police alleged that Hutchins was in a relationship with a married woman which ended when he began stalking her and her husband found out about the affair. The woman took out an intervention order which Hutchins breached during the first two weeks of February this year by tailgating the woman’s car and threatening to kill her, and abusing and threatening her husband.
Mr Klestadt requested a Forensicare report be prepared on April 10 but he heard yesterday that Hutchins had not been moved from the Warrnambool cells for 10 days, which meant a report had not been completed.
The magistrate said there had been a failure by authorities to provide adequate facilities and that it was a scandalous situation that people were being denied proper treatment or access to services.
He said he had no doubt the current situation of using police station cells as de facto prisons would continue until adequate resources were provided.
Mr Klestadt told Hutchins it was regrettable that no psychiatric report had been prepared before the matter was to be finalised.
“It is deeply troubling that the administration of justice is being compromised by the sorts of issues which has led to a report not being available,” he said.
The magistrate said he had read a letter from Hutchins but he still had concerns about the defendant. He said regardless of whether there had been a relationship, the woman had taken out an intervention order which Hutchins had grossly ignored.
Hutchins received a further six months’ imprisonment which was suspended for two years. The previously suspended sentence was restored and counted as time served, along with another 14-day jail term.