Restorative Justice Case Study 1
The victim, Terry, aged 30 and two of his brothers had gone to a barbeque where the offenders Peter and Roy were also present. They were not personally known to each other but all lived locally and seemed to be aware of each other slightly by repute.
All of the men had been drinking heavily during the course of the evening and subsequently a fight broke out between the victim, his brothers and the two co-defendants. Both offenders accepted that they punched the victim but as a result of a blow from the younger offender, Roy, the victim hit his head on the ground and died from the injuries he sustained injuries a few days later. Both men were charged with manslaughter.
Both offenders felt that they were responding in self-defence but the older offender, Peter, who had a fairly extensive record of violent offending, but was not the one responsible for the fatal blow, accepted responsibility for his part in the victims death and had already approached Remedi about the possibility of engaging with a restorative process.
His interest stemmed from the fact that he felt he wanted to help in any way he could the partner and the children of the dead man. He has children himself and felt particularly guilty about this aspect.
The victim, Vicky, is the long term partner of the man who died and has four children from this relationship whose ages range from 10 – 4 years. The elder child suffers from Cerebal Palsy and has learning difficulties and the three younger children suffer from epilepsy or behavioural difficulties. Vicky was referred to Remedi by the Probation Victim Contact Worker. At the time of the offence she was not interested in restorative justice but about a year after the offence occurred her feelings changed.
Her main interest in RJ was to let the offenders know how badly their father’s death had affected the children. She also wanted to ask specific questions about the offence and the events of the evening in order that she could answer her children’s questions in years to come – and indeed her own.
At the beginning of our contact with Vicky she was adamant that she never wanted to see either offender and so an ‘indirect’ process was pursued. At this point the younger offender, responsible for the fatal blow, was released and withdrew from the process. The older offender continued to be highly motivated however and at this point Vicky decided she would like to meet him herself and form her own opinion as to the genuine nature or otherwise of his responses.
Careful and extensive preparation was done with both parties and internal Remedi risk assessments were completed in order to address the potential impacts for both of a direct meeting. This meeting took place within the prison and both parties understood that they could take time out if necessary at any point.
At the beginning of the meeting both parties were extremely nervous and Vicky was unable to look directly at Peter but within a few minutes the atmosphere changed and she was asking not only the questions she had prepared but other questions which seemed to arise naturally from the answers.
.Vicky spoke eloquently about the ongoing effect on the lives of her children and both Peter and indeed the practitioners, found this extremely moving.
By the end of the meeting both parties were exchanging information freely and at one point Vicky actually stated that she accepted Peter had not intended to kill her partner. For his part, Peter wanted Vicky to understand his genuine remorse and also reassure her of his intention to move away from the area on his release.
Vicky expressed satisfaction that she had met Peter, had questions answered, formed her own opinion of him and as a result she felt able to acknowledge that the offence was not deliberate. As a result of this she felt she could answer her questions in the future and begin to move on herself.
Peter subsequently wrote to Remedi thanking us for giving him the opportunity to meet his victim’s partner, describing himself as having the opportunity to make peace with at least one person. He also offered to help “spread the word” about Remedi and RJ and its benefits within the prison.