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Judge to rule in autistic son case

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A High Court judge has been asked to decide whether a local authority acted unlawfully in refusing to allow a 21-year-old autistic man to be placed in the care of his father.

Mr Justice Peter Jackson began examining evidence about the needs of Steven Neary, of Uxbridge, west London, during a hearing at the Court of Protection in London.

Mr Neary’s father Mark, 52, has been involved in a care battle with the Hillingdon LBC for more than a year.

He says he should be allowed to care for his son at home. Hillingdon LBC disagrees.

The judge must decide whether the council has acted unlawfully in the past in refusing to allow Mr Neary to return his father’s home - and to decide arrangements for future care.

Mr Neary is at his father’s home. He left a local authority unit following an interim court order in December.

The hearing - details of which cannot be reported for legal reasons - is expected to last for several days.

The Court of Protection, which deals with issues involving vulnerable people, traditionally sits in private.

But Mr Justice Peter Jackson ruled in March that journalists could attend the hearing about Mr Neary, although he said what could be reported would be limited.

He told reporters that he would decide what detail could be made public when all evidence has been heard.

Hillingdon will dispute allegations that Mr Neary was detained unlawfully between January and April 2010 and that he was deprived of his liberty and right to family life unlawfully. The council said he was receiving assessment, support and a plan to return home and that he had frequent contact with his family and was able to visit his home.

A briefing note issued by the council detailed a range of incidents demonstrating Mr Neary’s self-harming and aggressive behaviour which the council believes show he poses a risk to groups of people. These include “hitting, scratching, spitting and biting” targeted at “specific groups of people such as children, pregnant women, older people and people wearing glasses”. He had also attacked dogs, the note states.

Mr Neary is currently living at home with his father where he received a care package of 93 hours a week from support workers with an additional 36.5 hours of support available. The council continues to monitor the level of incidents and Steven’s father’s ability to cope safety.

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