WHILE she has been told a bed may become available for her at Toowoomba Hospital, today marks the fifth day 86-year-old Patsy Quinn has been locked up in the city's watch house.

The well known Toowoomba resident, who has no criminal history at all, was taken into custody after a neighbourhood dispute with a 62-year-old male neighbour last Thursday.

She had been charged and was on bail for matters arising from the same dispute some weeks ago.

Her barrister Shane MacDonald represented the 86-year-old when her matters were mentioned before Toowoomba Magistrates Court on Friday.

Ms Quinn has been charged with serious assault of a person over 60 arising from an allegation she struck her neighbour with a stick during an argument on Thursday.

She is further charged with wilful damage of property, again arising from the neighbourhood dispute, and serious assault of police relating to an allegation she spat at a police officer when arrested.

Toowoomba barrister Shane MacDonald, Friday, August 21, 2020. Picture: Kevin Farmer
Toowoomba barrister Shane MacDonald, Friday, August 21, 2020. Picture: Kevin Farmer Kevin Farmer

Mr MacDonald suspected his client might be suffering the onset of dementia and wanted his client mentally assessed and a court mental health liaison officer who saw Ms Quinn in the watch house recommended she be assessed by a mental health professional.

However, Mr MacDonald told the court the hospital would not assess Ms Quinn as dementia was considered a medical condition and not a mental health issue and so didn't come under the Mental Health Act under which the hospital worked in such cases.

His client was unlikely to be granted bail to return to her home due to the ongoing neighbourhood dispute, he said.

Mr MacDonald has since written to various MPs and state ministers asking for intervention but while the toing and froing has been ongoing, Ms Quinn remains locked up in the watch house instead of being placed with the hospital as Mr MacDonald has suggested.

"We need a system that gets the person assessed and treated, not left languishing in jail," Mr MacDonald said on Friday.

"It's almost elder abuse by the government."

Mr MacDonald saw his client for some hours in the watch house yesterday and she told him she had been seen by someone from the hospital who said there may be a bed available today.

Member for Toowoomba South David Janetzki entered the debate at the weekend, saying Ms Quinn should be released from custody as soon as possible.

"I have already written to the state Health Minister asking that he work with other departments to ensure the woman is immediately assessed," he said.

"I have also asked that the whole of government consider how to avoid this ever happening again.

"An 86-year-old woman suffering from poor mental health should not be languishing in custody simply because of bureaucratic gaps."

Late yesterday a spokesman for the Darling Downs Health issues a statement to The Chronicle on the matter.

"Darling Downs Health can confirm that an assessment has been undertaken and plans are in place to provide appropriate care," the statement read.

"We must respect patient confidentiality so cannot say anymore about the case at this time."



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