HPLS helps homeless man avoid drug conviction

When police stopped a 30-year-old homeless man last year,
they asked if he was carrying anything that he should not be carrying.

After he was told he would be searched, Mr G produced a
cigarette packet with 1 gram of cannabis in it. He was charged with possession.

A week later, Mr G and the police met again.

Without prompting, Mr G told police he had a small amount of
cannabis (1.9 grams). Mr G had previous convictions for drug offences, and was
charged again following this latest disclosure.

According to the Homeless Persons’ Legal Service (HPLS)
Solicitor Advocate, Jeremy Rea, there were medical reasons for Mr G’s

‘Medical evidence from a neuropsychological report indicated
that Mr G had neuro-cognitive impairment, resulting in acquired brain damage,’
Mr Rea said.

‘Mr G did not have a developmental delay and clearly did not
have a mental illness. This meant his case did not fall within the provisions
of the Mental Health (Forensic
Provisions) Act
, which would have enable the Court to dismiss the matter.’

Mr G pleaded guilty to both charges. Material from his
neuropsychologist was tendered to the Court, together with support provided by
a caseworker from the Intellectual Disability Rights Centre NSW.

‘It was clear on the evidence that Mr G was vulnerable,’ Mr
Rea said. ‘Mr G had been homeless since the age of 16 and was HIV positive. The
offences were clearly committed as a consequence of his acquired brain damage,’
Mr Rea said.

‘The Magistrate accepted submissions that no conviction
should be imposed and the charges were dealt with under section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act.’

Mr Rea said the result was appropriate.

‘Unfortunately, Mr G’s record of convictions tends to
indicate that his illness had not been considered by the Courts until it was
raised in this case.’

Read more about the Homeless Persons’ Legal Service
and its Solicitor Advocate.

Photo: Flickr

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