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Steven Neary awarded £35,000 damages

Hillingdon Council has been ordered to pay £35,000 to Steven Neary after he was unlawfully detained in a care unit for almost a year.

27 July 2012

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The High Court yesterday (26 July 2012) approved the payment to Neary, with Mr Justice Kenneth Parker saying he was “satisfied this is a proper order to make”.

The Court of Protection last year ruled that the council’s use of a deprivation of liberty authorisation had unlawfully deprived Neary of his freedom. Hillingdon Council held Steven Neary, who is autistic and has a severe learning disability, for almost a year after he was taken into a ‘positive behaviour unit’ in 2009.

Steven Neary requires adult supervision at all times, which was provided up until December 2009 by his father, Mark, and a team of council-funded day carers. At Christmas 2009 his father was “unwell and exhausted” and agreed that his son would go to a positive behaviour unit for “a couple of weeks”. Mark Neary viewed the move as temporary and thought his son would be home by late January 2010.

However, Hillingdon Council said care staff had concerns about Steven Neary’s challenging behaviour and weight, and argued that the move should be for a longer period. Steven Neary stayed at the unit for about a year, returning to his father’s home in December 2010 after a court order.

The case came to prominence as the first in which journalists were allowed access to the normally private hearings of the Court of Protection.

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