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Criminal Lunatic Asylum, Dundrum—Alleged Assault

Volume 313: debated on Thursday 21 April 1887

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asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, If his attention had been called to the case tried before the Recorder of Dublin, on the 13th instant, in which William Lamb, late a Head Constable in the Royal Irish Constabulary, sued Dr. Ashe, Resident Medical Superintendent of the Criminal Lunatic Asylum at Dundrum, to recover damages for an alleged assault committed while an inmate of the Asylum; whether, according to the evidence as reported in The Freeman's Journal of the 14th inst, Dr. Ashe stated,

"On the occasion of the bath, Lamb was stripped, his feet tied, and he was plunged in the bath for 10 seconds, and then, after an interval, for 10 seconds more;"
whether it is a fact that Lamb was plunged under the water head downwards, and held there by the warders; whether this was done as a punishment for refusing to go to church; whether a similar case occurred at the Limerick Asylum in 1873, when a patient named Danford came to his death from submersion in the bath; whether, on that occasion, as stated at page 63 of the 23rd Report on Irish Asylums, the warder who administered the bath was tried for homicide; but, as eight months had elapsed, and no Coroner's inquest had taken place, a conviction could not be had; whether the Resident Medical Superintendent who ordered the bath was called on by the Lord Lieutenant to resign, and did so; and, if the facts are as stated, what course will be taken with regard to Dr. Ashe?

(who replied) said: I am informed that the facts are not as stated in the Question. The man's head was not held downwards in the bath, and the punishment was inflicted, not for refusing to go to church, but for creating disturbances in church. He brought an action for damages against the Resident Medical Superintendent of the Asylum; but it was dismissed, with costs against the plaintiff; and the Recorder, who tried the action, made some complimentary references to the manner in which the Asylum, was conducted. The incident in the Limerick Asylum was altogether dissimilar. However, the question of punishing lunatics by plunging into cold water is under consideration.

said, it was given in evidence that this man's head was held downwards under water for 10 seconds, and again for 10 seconds a second time.

said, he understood the man's head was not held downwards; but he believed his head was held under water.

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether, referring to the case of Lamb v. Ashe, recently tried before the Recorder of Dublin, the rules made by the Lord Lieutenant in Council for the "good conduct and management of District and Criminal Lunatic Asylums in Ireland," sanction the employment of the cold plunge bath as a means of punishment, as stated in the evidence given in above case; and, whether the employment of such punishment is a distinct violation of Rule xviii. of said Rules?

(who replied) said: The punishment was sanctioned by the Privy Council; but the question is now under consideration.