There was renewed hope last night for a 23-year-old "model citizen" who faces deportation.

Mohammed Samad, from Blackthorns, Hurstpierpoint, was detained at the Government immigration centre in Colnbrook, near Heathrow Airport, without warning on Tuesday morning and told he had just days before he would be flown back to his native Sri Lanka.

The case sparked outcry and fierce criticism of the Home Office because Mr Samad has held down a steady job, married and raised a two-year-old since fleeing Sri Lanka in 1999 after being beaten by Tamil tiger rebels.

But today it emerged that Mr Samad had been moved to the immigration centre in Oakington, Cambridge, which fast tracks incoming asylum applications.

Mr Samad's lawyer believes it opens the possibility that the Home Office may have had a last-minute change of heart and now intends to accept Mr Samad's asylum application rather than deport him.

He said: "At the moment we just don't know because the Home Office is keeping us very much in the dark. But it does appear to at least be a slightly positive change."

Sources close to Mr Samad told The Argus they were furious at his treatment at Colnbrook and claimed he was being held in the same cell as a manslaughter suspect.

They demanded that he be moved - which also could be a reason for him being taken to Oakington.

The Home Office refused to comment on the case but maintains that it intends to "robustly" deal with failed asylum cases like Mr Samad's.

Tim Manly, headteacher at Hurstpierpoint College, where Mr Samad works as a groundsman, was among those who last night came out in support of the 23-year-old.

Mr Samad's wife, Sarah, has told The Argus that his deportation would tear their family apart and force her and their baby Oscar to go onto benefits.

Campaign group, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has urged the Home Office to reverse the decision to deport Mr Samad.

A spokeswoman said: "We think that a man that is well respected in his community and has clearly settled well in this country should not be sent back to Sri Lanka.

"The Home Office has discretion to change this decision and we urge them too immediately. The immigration laws in this country often do not take into account very detailed personal circumstances and they should."

Mr Samad's MP Nick Herbert, who has campaigned on behalf of the 23-year-old, said: "I think it's a very unfortunate situation and naturally I'm very sorry for my constituent."