Graylands escapee still on the run
A man who escaped from a Perth mental hospital where he was waiting to face court on siege-related charges is still on the run after two weeks.
David Charles Batty, 52, failed to appear in the West Australian District Court on June 24 on three charges including attempting to cause an explosion likely to do serious damage to property and deprivation of liberty.
Batty’s defence lawyer told the court that staff at Graylands Hospital had not seen him for a week.
Batty had been detained at the maximum-security Frankland Centre within the hospital since July 2012 after he allegedly threatened police with a gas bottle and lighter for more than four hours in a stand-off at Kings Park.
Before the siege he also allegedly held his elderly father Frank, then aged 79, hostage in a car, with his wrists bound by tape.
After his arrest, the Perth Magistrates Court heard the Frankland Centre had submitted a report on Batty, saying he still required psychiatric care and was not fit to stand trial.
WA’s opposition spokesman for mental health Stephen Dawson said it was very concerning Batty had absconded from a locked facility.
“It’s an outrage that he’s escaped and an outrage the minister hasn’t informed the community that they could be a risk from this violent offender escaping,” Mr Dawson told AAP.
“The Frankland Centre’s previously submitted a report on Mr Batty that he still needed psychiatry care and was not fit to stand trial.
“If he still needed care and he’s not fit to stand trial, he should still be detained.”
Mr Dawson said the incident put Graylands Hospital, which last year faced several inquests into a spate of deaths at the facility, back in the spotlight.
“I know the government has started to close down wards at the facility,” he said.
“If they’ve closed wards they probably have started to cut back on staff and this could have led to somebody who’s got a violent past escaping from the facility.”
Mental Health Minister Helen Morton defended the facility when contacted for comment.
“WA’s Mental Health Services have stringent protocols and processes in place for managing patients depending on their clinical needs,” Ms Morton said.
“Patient confidentiality is taken very seriously and as such it would be highly inappropriate to comment on this case. It would also be inappropriate to comment on a matter which is currently before the courts.”