Justice for Joe - partial victory in fight to free mentally ill Stoke Newington man

The mother of a mentally ill Stoke Newington man has spoken of her “delight” after her son was transferred to hospital from jail, where his supporters believe he had been incarcerated unjustly.

Linda Morgan is hoping to see her son, Joe Paraskeva, 21, for the first time since April following his move to Hackney’s John Howard Centre, a medium secure forensic mental health unit, last Thursday.

Joe, who has bipolar affective disorder, has been in prison since October 2010 after he set fire to a door in a hospital’s psychiatric ward.

His supporters believe he should be cared for in hospital rather than “criminalised” because of his mental illness.

They welcomed his move to hospital – but stressed that their struggle is not over.

“It is a great first step towards Joe getting the help he sought and badly needs,” said Linda, 57.

“It is wonderful just knowing that he is back in Hackney.

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“We are delighted that he has at last been moved after we commissioned an independent report.”

It is uncertain how long Joe will be in hospital. He may be returned to prison to continue serving his indeterminate sentence for public protection (IPP), a controversial punishment which is currently under government review.

Justice for Joe campaigners say they are still fighting to have his conviction completely overturned.

“I do feel there is something very badly wrong in a system which allows this to happen in the first place,” said Linda.

“Surely there should be safeguards in place so that Joe, who was already suffering with a severe mental crisis, could have been kept in a hospital and not punished with imprisonment.

“He happens to be being treated in hospital but that does not mean he is no longer a prisoner.

“Obviously I am hoping they will keep him in hospital for a proper length of time and until we can get his conviction overturned.”

n For more information about Justice for Joe go to www.justiceforjoe.org.uk.