Mark Neary: I never thought that it would take so long to get Steven back. For me it was an incredibly emotional experience. I didn't really understand how distressed Steven was. Steven's whole case rested on The Human Rights Act. My name is Mark Neary, father Steven Neary. Steven is 27 and Stephens got autism and learning disabilities. Routine is very important to him. If we know there's going to be a change to a routine, we have to work quite hard preparing Steven for that change. Who are we going to see again today?

Steven Neary: Chris and Emily?

Mark Neary: Chris and Emily.

Steven Neary: Rose and Victor?

Mark Neary: And Rose and Victor.

Amanda Weston (barrister): 2009, I went down with flu. If I'm feeling under the weather, it doubles the normal pressure. The social worker had always encouraged me. If ever I needed a break, just phone the manager of the respite centre up. He used to go every other Monday. The plan was he would be away for three days and I would go and pick him up on the Saturday morning. It became quite clear early on that they weren't prepared to let Steven come home. Within the first week, they recorded 26 incidents of Steven lashing out. The social worker stopped all contact so I didn't really understand how distressed Steven was. Steven was in the unit for 359 days. When we originally applied to the court, it was Steven's barrister who said "this is a human rights case." His right to liberty and his right to family life had been breached. We made an application to The Court of Protection for an urgent hearing. We got into court within three weeks and the judge made an order that day that Steven should go home. I can remember sitting down watching him the day he came home pouring himself a strawberry milkshake watching Countdown on the telly. All these kind of tiny details of his life that makes Steven's life fulfilling kind of taught me that the year was a year worth fighting for. Human rights on a day-to-day basis are Steven saying "dad, want to take a cake across to uncle Wayne's house" and knowing that he can do something as ordinary as that. That's the meat and that's the value of The Human Rights Act.
Family, Justice

Give me back my son: How Human Rights Brought Steven Neary Home

Published on 29 Nov 2019

After Mark Neary fell ill, he called upon a respite centre to take care of his son, Steven, for a few days while he recovered. Steven was kept there, against his will, for 359 days.

For Mark’s autistic son, Steven, day-to-day routine is very important. Communicating any changes with Steven is key so he doesn’t become overwhelmed. So when Mark came down with flu in 2009, he had to use a respite centre so Steven could be looked after. The centre refused to release Steven, and so Mark had to fight for his son’s human rights to bring him home.

We spoke to Mark about the battle he faced in fighting for Steven’s right to liberty and family life.

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