Judge overrules hospital order

A MAGISTRATE had no power to send a former government doctor to a psychiatric centre for non-payment of eight fixed-penalty tickets, the High Court was told yesterday.

Senior Crown counsel, Mr Christopher Coghlan, conceded that the hospital order against 40-year-old Lee Yue-tung, who suffers from schizophrenia, should not be allowed to stand.

Setting aside the three-month hospital order, Mr Justice Wong said the magistrate was acting outside his jurisdiction.

He was satisfied, however, that the magistrate had acted out of good intentions.

The judge added that he was glad Lee was now willing to undertake psychiatric treatment.

The court heard that eight fixed-penalty tickets dated between October 7, 1988, and February 10, 1989, had been issued against Lee, a government doctor until 1984.

The tickets covered failing to comply with traffic signs and driving without all necessary lights illuminated properly, and failing to display a valid vehicle licence.

The demands were ignored and the outstanding fines, together with additional penalties for late payment and costs, totalled $3,400.

Lee made a number of appearances before magistrate Mr Fergal Sweeney and claimed that his car was stolen in 1989 but he had not reported the loss to the police.

Psychiatric reports indicated that Lee was probably a reckless and dangerous driver who was suffering mental illness.

Mr Sweeney made an order on June 25, last year, sending him to Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre for three months because he felt Lee might not volunteer for psychiatric treatment.

Counsel on appeal, Mr Christopher Grounds, said Lee had now volunteered to attend a psychiatric clinic every month.