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Thursday, June 09, 2011

Autistic man detained unlawfully

Autistic man detained unlawfully

A local authority unlawfully detained a 21-year-old autistic man by keeping him in a care unit and refusing to allow him to return home, a High Court judge ruled today.

Mr Justice Peter Jackson reserved judgment last month after hearing evidence about a dispute over the care of Steven Neary, of Uxbridge, north west London.

The judge was told, during a week-long hearing at the Court of Protection in London, that Mr Neary's father Mark, 52, had been involved in a care battle with the London Borough of Hillingdon for more than a year.

Lawyers said the dispute started after Mr Neary went into a "positive behaviour unit" in December 2009.

Mr Neary's father told the court that he viewed the move as temporary - and thought that his son would be home by late January last year.

He said he felt "powerless".

The council said care staff had concerns about Mr Neary's "challenging" behaviour and weight, and argued that the move was intended to be for a longer period.

Mr Neary stayed at the unit for about a year, returning to his father's home last December following a court order.

Mr Justice Peter Jackson concluded that Hillingdon Council's use of a "deprivation of liberty" order unlawfully deprived Mr Neary of his freedom.

The Court of Protection, which deals with issues surrounding vulnerable people, normally sits in private.

But earlier this year, Mr Justice Peter Jackson ruled that journalists could attend hearings about Mr Neary and that parties involved could be identified.

The judge, sitting in London, made the order following an application brought by five media organisations, including the Press Association.

Mr Justice Peter Jackson said in that ruling: "Steven's circumstances are already in the public domain to a considerable extent.

"If the claims made by Mr Neary are made out ... the facts deserve to be known to the public. If they are not made out, it may be right for the record to be corrected."

He added: "There is no evidence whatever that Steven has suffered from the publicity that has already been generated. His life has not been destabilised and he has not been made anxious by the coverage so far."

1 comment:

Tim said...

I was horrified when I read about this case, so this is a good outcome, I think.