Amir's story - fighting the criminalisation of acute mental distress

Twenty-five-year-old Amir* was walking in Melbourne’s Central Business District while experiencing acute mental distress.  He stopped a person to ask for the time. The person took out their phone to tell Amir the time when he attempted to take the mobile. A struggle ensued and the victim was pushed to the ground.  Amir ran away with the phone.  

Victoria Police located Amir and charged him with robbery, theft and unlawful assault. Amir was referred to IMCL through our partnership with Royal Melbourne Hospital, who had been providing mental health support to him for almost 12-months before the incident. Amir was seeking treatment because his experience of migrating and settling in Australia had caused trauma and episodes of poor mental health. 

IMCL was able to focus on building the best possible defence because our partners at Royal Melbourne Hospital ensured Amir was well-supported and remained engaged with both his treatment regime and the court process. Amir’s doctors outlined his progress in a supporting letter that our lawyers could submit to the court. We could provide the Magistrates’ Court with details of his treatment regime, Amir’s commitment to the process so far, and the resulting progress since the incident.  

Our lawyers could argue that Amir was an educated young man capable of contributing to the community with no criminal record and he had a good chance of rehabilitating in the community if the Magistrate took these mitigating factors into account. We were successful and the charges were discharged, no conviction was recorded, and a diversion plan was granted.  

Amir apologised to the victim, was placed on a good behavior bond and made an undertaking to continue his treatment. This has allowed Amir to focus on his recovery and get his life on track without the fear that the incident will be revealed to the public or any future employer. The outcome saved the community the costs of incarceration and ensured Amir could fulfil his potential.  

*Name has been changed