A victim has her questions about a robbery answered via letter.
In February 2017, a male offender in his early fifties was arrested for Burglary of a house.
At the time of the offence he was on license for Manslaughter and he was therefore recalled back to Prison to serve a custodial sentence.
The victim of this offence, Jane*, was a female in her mid thirties, who lived alone in a two bedroom flat. On the day of the offence, Jane left her home for short trip to the local supermarket. Unknown to Jane, the offender, John*, and his accomplice were loitering in the street looking for criminal opportunity. The offender has a long history of drug abuse and at the time was looking for a way to fund his use. John and his accomplice saw the victim leave the building and took this opportunity to force entry into her property.
They ransacked the property, stealing family jewellery as well as removing several electronic goods, including the devices that Jane used for work.
Upon returning to the address, a neighbour let Jane know that her property may have been burgled. Jane called the Police and waited outside until they arrived. The Police were able to identify John via a hat that had been dropped during the offence.
John had initially pled Not Guilty to the offence, but later changed his plea to Guilty. He advises that this was due to seeing Jane in the Gallery.
Upon sentencing John mouthed "I’m Sorry" to Jane before being led away. It was this moment that victim felt she wanted to further engage with John and requested restorative justice through statutory agencies. Unfortunately, her request remained unmet, until she was informed about Restore:London. Jane made contact with the service and within several days was met by two facilitators.
Putting the victim and offender in contact
Jane had many unanswered questions around the offence.
Questions around the whereabouts of the heirloom jewellery that was taken, whether John would have used violence had she been present and also how he may have felt if his own family were to be victims of such a crime. At this stage, Jane was unsure whether she wanted to meet the offender directly and due to the nature of the process there was no urgency for her to decide.
John was remorseful from the start of the process and showed empathy and understanding of the impact caused. He wanted to answer her questions in whatever form she wanted. During the process the victim relocated abroad but still wanted to engage in the process and chose to do so through letter writing. The victim requested that the facilitators continued to make contact with her through Skype.
The facilitators met with John and gave him the questions from the victim. He was asked to write his letter and then send it on to the facilitators. Once they received the letter, they read it and ensured no further harm would be caused by the content and then forwarded it on to Jane.
Once the letter was received, the facilitators made contact with Jane via Skype to discuss her feelings and reactions to the letter. She felt positive and that she was able to finally move on. She was satisfied by the answers given to her and wanted to reply to him. In the next coming weeks, Jane sent her reply, which the facilitators passed on to John. He was pleasantly shocked by the response, as he was not expecting one at all. He felt emotional and grateful that Jane had taken time out to respond and advised that although he wasn’t sure of his future, he would use this as a tool to remind him of the impact caused to others by his offending.
Both victim and offender felt they were able to move on after the process and were happy to have taken part in restorative justice.