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Petition calling for Stoke Newington man’s release goes to PM

PUBLISHED: 14:42 17 June 2011 | UPDATED: 14:57 17 June 2011

The mother of a young man with bipolar disorder jailed for arson after trying to set fire to the hospital where he was sectioned is urging people to sign a petition to Prime Minister David Cameron.

Linda Morgan is concerned about the well being of her 20-year-old son Joe Paraskeva from Stoke Newington who has been sentenced to an indeterminate term of imprisonment. She said prison is not the best place for him.

He will have to serve at least two years before he is eligible for parole. He will be transferred to an adult prison in September when he reaches 21.

He is currently at a young offenders unit at Chelmsford, Essex, and his family say he has lost a considerable amount of weight since he has been there as he is depressed and they are concerned about his physical and mental well being. His family have praised the prison staff for looking after his needs as far as they are able in a prison environment.

His legal team have sought leave to appeal his sentence.

Actor Stephen Fry and boxer Frank Bruno who have both experienced mental illness are said to support Joe’s case.

Diane Abbott MP, Hackney North and Stoke Newington said: “It is really important that these campaigners have their voice heard.

“The case is complex, but the questions raised by his apparently harsh treatment by the criminal justice system feed into an ongoing debate on how offenders with mental health problems should be dealt with.”

Ms Morgan said: “This petition aims to seek justice and proper health care for Joe Paraskeva.

“We believe that his case is a miscarriage of justice and a violation of his human rights.

“We believe that a young man, 20, with a diagnosis of Bipolar Affective Disorder, which is a severe and enduring mental health disorder, should not have been sent to prison. Instead, he should be receiving the proper care, support and treatment he deserves from the National Health Service .”

She said if 5,000 people sign the petition her campaign will get a response from the government and 100,000 signatures would mean the case would be eligible to be discussed in Parliament.

The petition closes on Wednesday August 31.

People are also urged to send postcards about Joe’s case to Mr Cameron.

They are available from the family’s local newsagents Hamdy’s in Stoke Newington High Street who has created a window display to draw attention to Joe’s case.

A bank account will be opened to help support the campaign but Ms Morgan asked people to wait until it has been set up before sending any donations.

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