Trial for Amanda Murphy, charged with assault, set for July

ANTIGONISH – Amanda Murphy made a quick appearance in Antigonish provincial court on Wednesday, pleading not guilty to three charges.

The 34-year-old, who has bipolar disorder and the cognitive level of a person aged five to eight, is facing two charges of assault and one of breach of probation.

Murphy’s mother Iris says the charges stem from incidents at the care facility where she lives.

“It’s been an absolute nightmare from beginning to end, and it’s not over yet for us,” she said. “We still have a long way to go.”

Brenda Hardiman was in court Wednesday morning to show her support. Her daughter Nichele Benn is in a similar situation.

Benn, who has a brain disorder that causes episodes of aggressive behaviour, is facing assault charges after an incident at the Quest Regional Rehabilitation Centre where she lives.

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“People with intellectual disabilities do not belong in the regular court stream, nor they belong in the mental health court stream,” said Hardiman. “It’s a health issue and needs to be treated as a health issue and not as a criminal issue.”

Both mothers say they believe the solution for people with complex needs lies not with the justice system, but with appropriate housing options and highly trained staff.

“Our hope and greatest wish is…an individualized option and not the rehabilitation center or residential center,” said Iris Murphy.

Amanda Murphy’s trial has been scheduled for July 14.

Nichele Benn is expected back in Dartmouth provincial court on Feb. 24 to make a plea.

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