THE father of an autistic 20-year-old man placed in care against his wishes is rejoicing after a High Court judgment this week confirmed that his son would be able to come home permanently.
Hillingdon Council had placed a Deprivation of Liberty order on Steven Neary, which was temporarily over-turned in December.
Reporting restrictions were placed on the case when it was heard in the secretive Court of Protection in central London.
The interim order was made permanent this week and a reporting ban was lifted, as Mr Justice Mostyn decided the case should be in the public domain.
Steven Neary was placed into council care in December 2009 when his father, Mark, of Penrith Close, Uxbridge, became ill with flu.
To his father's horror, when he recovered the council said it would be unsafe to release Steven as it felt he had displayed 'challenging behaviour'.
This was disputed by Mr Neary, who said any such behaviour was brought on by being in the council unit in Colham Road, Yiewsley.
Last July, when the Gazette was the first media organisation to take up the story, Mr Neary said: "Being forced into a situation he does not like, finds difficult to understand and gets upset about means he can react to the situation and this gets used as evidence against him.
"Prior to going to the treatment unit, Steven had quite a good life; he was content with his routines and daily activities. Of course he gets anxious at times - that's autism."
Yesterday morning (Tuesday) Mr Neary said: "If it hadn't been for the Gazette, it would not have led to wider media interest in the story.
"I wouldn't have got a solicitor, as before that I was hitting so many dead ends. I will be forever grateful.
"I am absolutely over the moon, in a state of shock really."
The support of 5,785 people in a Facebook group also inspired him not to give up, even at moments when victory seemed against the odds.
Steven, a former pupil at Moorcroft School, in Bramble Close, Hillingdon, will celebrate his 21st birthday in three weeks' time, and is overjoyed at being back at home.
"He still has some trauma; so have I. Every morning he wakes up and says, 'I am not going back to Merrimans House today', and says to me, 'You are not going to get the flu today'.
"He loves being on the computer. He did not have one in the unit and the little things like that make being at home an enormous difference. He has been absolutely fine since being at home."
The legal ramifications of the case are not yet over. A hearing has been set at the Court of Protection for May 23 for a five-day investigation into the circumstances surrounding Steven's deprivation of liberty.
"It is to look at the nature of Hillingdon Council's actions and to look at the way they acted," said Mr Neary.
Linda Sanders, the council's director of adult social care, health and housing, said: "Our first priority is always to the people in our care and we have always put Steven at the heart of our decision-making. We are continuing to provide extensive support to Steven and his father at home and will keep working with the family."