Joanne Darcy turns to High Court

A woman who claims she was unlawfully detained for over six years at the Kanangra Centre, on the NSW mid-north coast, has asked the High Court to intervene in her case.

Joanne Darcy (pictured), who has a mild intellectual disability, was 19 years old when a Magistrate ordered her to attend the Kanangra Centre for an assessment in 1996. Ms Darcy was then forcibly held at Kanangra until 2002.

PIAC, acting on behalf of Ms Darcy, lodged a claim of false imprisonment against the State of NSW in 2007. The matter was heard first by the District Court, then the NSW Court of Appeal.

In December 2011, the Court of Appeal accepted that Ms Darcy had been detained at Kanangra, but believed the Office of the Public Guardian had tacitly consented to her detention.

‘The Court of Appeal’s conclusion is troubling,’ said PIAC’s principal solicitor, Alexis Goodstone.

‘The evidence presented in the case makes it clear that the Public Guardian strongly objected to Ms Darcy’s detention.

‘Ms Darcy’s case tests the extent to which the law protects the rights of a person with disability to freedom from arbitrary detention. The outcome will have important implications for the exercise of power by government, particularly in relation to vulnerable people.

‘PIAC has asked the High Court to grant Ms Darcy special leave to appeal,’ Ms Goodstone said

The High Court will consider Ms Darcy’s special leave application at a hearing in Sydney on 17 August 2012.

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