High Court dismisses Joanne Darcy case

The High Court today dismissed a special leave
application on behalf of Joanne Darcy, who was detained at a state-run facility
called Kanangra for over six years.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre represented
Ms Darcy, who has a moderate intellectual disability. 

In 1996, Ms Darcy was convicted of a minor
criminal offence. She was 19 years old at the time, and she was ordered to
attend Kanangra, on the NSW mid-north coast, for psychological assessment.

Ms Darcy was subsequently detained at Kanangra
for six and a half years, against her will and against the express wishes of the Office of the Public Guardian. 

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

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.

Before the High Court today, Dr Chris Birch
SC (pictured, left, with Barrister Kellie Edwards and PIAC Principal Solicitor, Alexis Goodstone) said there had been no express determination by the Public Guardian
regarding Ms Darcy’s detention. He argued that tacit consent could not be
interpreted as a determination.

The High Court, however, declined to overturn
the Court of Appeal’s decision.

‘Today’s decision is a disappointment,’ said PIAC’s Alexis Goodstone.

‘Joanne Darcy’s case highlights a real problem
in the law, which is that people with disability can be treated in this way
without legal redress,’ Ms Goodstone said. 

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