356 days after Steven left his home for three days respite, we finally made it to the Royal Courts of Justice. It was 21st December 2010. It had been snowing heavily for three days and the night before, Chris had phoned me to say that he was snowed in down in Cornwall and wouldn't be able to make it. I booked a cab to get me all the way to Holborn as the trains had been seriously disrupted. I arrived very early and explored the splendid gothic building and then sat outside the courtroom waiting for everyone else to arrive. Sophy arrived and introduced me to the OS barrister, Aswene Weeratne and the Hillingdon barrister came over and made himself known. Amanda arrived and took me off to a quiet room for a last minute briefing. She was feeling confident and said that she would test the temperature of the Judge and then really go for it - lift the DOL and an immediate return home. That seemed too good to be true to me.
We went into Court, before Justice Mostyn and all three barristers gave their opening address. It was so heartening to hear both Amanda and Aswene saying pretty much the same thing. The first bit of business was shocking - Hillingdon dropped their welfare deputy application! I thought - "what does that leave them with? They had put all their eggs in one basket and had now removed the basket". Whilst I was mulling over this thought, I heard my name being called to give evidence.
The Hillingdon barrister went first and persistently asked me whether I was intimidated by Steven and why didn't I accept the level of threat he posed. I could see that it was grandstanding for the judge but is was deeply uncomfortable. After short cross examinations from Amanda and the OS, the judge wanted to ask a few questions. It was nothing like I'd expected, like I'd prepared for. I thought I'd be giving a long account of everything that had happened. Instead, he just focused on the sort of home life Steven might have if he decided to let Steven come home. It was great because I was able to talk about the kind of things that all year long, Hillingdon had never wanted to listen to.
After 20 minutes, I was asked to return to my seat. No Hillingdon witnesses were being called. The Judge announced that he was going to give his judgement. He described my testimony as "genuine, reasonable, articulate and very moving", which set me off. And then, as if he was talking about the weather, he announced that he was terminating the latest DOL and Steven was free to return home immediately. I broke down and missed the rest - it was an interim order. We were to return in February and if all had gone well, it would be made a permanent order. The court would appoint two experts who would visit us and file a report on what they considered to be in Steven's best interests.
It was all over.
You may think I'm stark raving mad but I know how important preparation is for Steven. So, although I could have gone and picked him up from the Unit there and then, I said that we needed to prepare Steven for the homecoming. We agreed that I would tell him later today on his home visit and he would come home three days later on Christmas Eve.
There was one last bit if business. Amanda and I met the Hillingdon managers to discuss the support package. Amanda and Aswene both felt, that to quash Hillingdon's "belief" about risk, we should have support for pretty much the whole day. It will be good evidence come February. And that was what was agreed. I didn't think it was necessary but apart from the night times, there would be support in the home all day and every day until the February hearing.
There was no time for a celebration - I had to get home to break the news to Steven.......