Mental Health, Autism & Learning Disabilities in the Criminal Courts

Information for magistrates, district judges and court staff

Home Contents Search

Matt’s story

Matt was arrested for assault. While in police custody he was seen by a nurse who thought he might be on the autistic spectrum. Although Matt didn’t have a formal diagnosis of autism, his family reported concerns about his behaviour consistent with that reported by the nurse.

Matt’s case went to court and he was found guilty of assault. During his trial, the magistrates felt that something wasn’t ‘quite right’ and asked for a medical report to help them decide what sentence would be appropriate. Matt was remanded into custody for medical reports, which took longer than expected. Eventually Matt was seen by two doctors and their reports were presented to the court.

Both reports described Matt as being on the autistic spectrum with underlying psychosis and recommended hospital to see if Matt would respond to treatment. He is currently in a low secure hospital ward in his local area that specialises in autistic spectrum disorders and mental illness.

Matt now has a diagnosis, which means he is likely to receive appropriate treatment and support for his condition. This, in turn, should help him to manage his behaviour and reduce re-offending.

Case study provided by Rethink Mental Illness.

© Prison Reform Trust and Rethink Mental Illness. All rights reserved.