Melanie Shaw given hospital order and will stay in Rampton to be treated
‘It is clear when she does not receive what she wants she is liable to be threatening,’ said the judge
Melanie Shaw, the woman who was one of the first people to report historic sex abuse at Beechwood children’s home, has been given a hospital order and will stay in Rampton to be treated.
The 48-year-old was sentenced today, Tuesday April 2, after setting fire to the bedding in her prison cell because she felt her human rights were being abused.
At Leeds Crown Court, she was given a section 37 hospital order, which means that she will be sent to hospital for treatment, rather than to prison.
But she was also given a section 41 restriction order, which can be added to a hospital order if the court feels the person is a risk to the public – and which has no fixed time limit.
Making the hospital order – which needs evidence from two doctors – Judge Penelope Belcher said that 40 pages of reports had been provided by the doctors, providing details of Shaw’s medical history, background, previous convictions and attitude.
She said: “Both doctors are of the view this lady will respond to treatment, and there is a bed available.
“Both doctors are also of the view a section 41 restriction order is necessary. The order should be known as a restriction order.
“I have considered [Shaw’s] previous convictions and the advice from the psychiatrists. In her current condition she is unable to control her conditions.
“It is clear when she does not receive what she wants she is liable to be threatening.
“It is necessary that a restriction order is made under section 41. [Shaw] will be given a hospital order and a restriction order.”
Who is Melanie Shaw and what do her supporters want?
Shaw had started a blaze in her cell at HMP Foston Hall, Derby, and at HMP New Hall, Wakefield, on three separate occasions between February and June 2017, the court heard.
When interviewed about the arson in August 2017, she said it was a ‘cry for help’ and that the reason reason behind it was ‘my human rights being abused’.
She was deemed unfit to stand trial and it was conducted in her absence at Leeds Crown Court.
It was found she committed three counts of arson being reckless as to when property is damaged or destroyed, following a ‘finding of facts’ trial.
Shaw, who has been at Rampton Hospital, was not produced either in person or by video link today’s 30-minute sentencing hearing.
However, her hospital treating consultant Dr Syed Afghan gave evidence via video link.
Judge Belcher asked: “You conclude that she has a number of conditions including bipolar and a number of personality disorders?”
Dr Afghan, who the court heard had been in the profession for 16 years, replied: “Correct.”
Within Dr Afhgan’s report, Shaw had shown traits of aggression, violence and challenging behaviour during her imprisonment, the court heard.
These included dirty protests and being ‘racially threatening’ to the doctor, the judge told the court.
Dr Afghan also confirmed a bed was available at Rampton – a secure hospital in north Nottinghamshire – for Shaw’s treatment.
Around 15 supporters of Shaw watched the proceedings from the public gallery.
Under the Mental Health Act 1983, as amended by the Mental Health Act 2007, a section 37 hospital order can be granted for up to six months at a time, can then be renewed for a further six months, and then for one year at a time.
However, if a section 41 restriction order is imposed, for the ‘protection of the public from serious harm’, this changes the time limit of the hospital order, and has no fixed time limit.
It means that the person can only be discharged with permission from the Secretary of State for Justice.
Shaw first went to police in 2010 with allegations that she had been abused at Beechwood children’s home in Mapperley.
Since then more than 370 people have come forward with allegations of historic sexual abuse and/or physical abuse at children’s homes and other locations in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.
The issue is being looked at by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, which will issue its report this summer.
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