19th November 2015
Beryl is a 96-year-old woman who lived on her own after her husband passed away some years previous. She had always been in good health and kept herself fit and well. One day completely out of the blue, Beryl collapsed after having a heart attack; fortunately she was wearing a personal healthcare alarm around her neck and pressed the emergency button. She was taken via ambulance to the hospital where she spent time recovering.
The day after Beryl was taken to hospital, her home was burgled. Beryl was unaware of this at this time. Her hairdresser went to Beryl’s home as they had an appointment and found the property open, the hairdresser went into Beryl’s home and discovered the burglary.
Beryl was told some time after her heart attack about the burglary and she stated that when she found out she ‘nearly had another one’. She initially didn’t want to return to her home and her daughter began looking into alternative accommodation for her. Beryl decided that she wasn’t going to ‘let the burglar’ beat her and went back to her home – she stated that she had had many happy years there.
Beryl had had various items stolen including her jewellery which had great sentimental value to her as they had been bought as gifts by her late husband.
On visiting Beryl, she had a lot of questions that she wanted answers to around the burglary. She wanted to know if her home had been watched, if the offender had seen her having been taken away in an ambulance and therefore knowing that her home would be empty. She felt that by knowing these answers it would give her some closure.
Chase is a 24-year-old man who had been charged with the burglary on Beryl’s home and is currently serving a 3 year prison sentence for the offence. This is the first time that Chase had been sentenced to a custodial sentence. On visiting Chase, he immediately showed a great deal of remorse and empathy for the victim and he also became quite emotional when discussing the burglary. He agreed to indirect communication with Beryl stating that he wanted to try and make ‘things better’ for Beryl.
Chase has battled with a heroin addiction over the past six years. He initially started using heroin to cope with an abusive relationship and quickly became both physically and emotionally addicted to the drug. He stated that he committed the burglary in order to obtain money to fund this addiction.
Beryl wrote to Chase asking him various questions about the burglary to which she wanted answers. Chase responded to Beryl’s letter and wrote a lengthy heartfelt letter back to her answering the questions and informing her that the burglary had been a random act after he noticed that there were no lights on. He also told her how sorry he was for committing the burglary and how ashamed of himself he is and that the guilt he feels is overwhelming. Chase also informed Beryl that he is accessing support and treatment for his drug addiction whilst he is in prison and plans to make positive changes for his future when he is released and he doesn’t want to go back to his ‘old ways’ and never wants to cause another person ‘harm’ again.
On returning to visit Beryl with the letter, she asked for it to be read out to her. As the letter was read she looked quite emotional and afterwards stated that she could hear that Chase was genuinely sorry for his actions. She was pleased that he answered her questions stating that it had now given her ‘peace of mind’ and closure for her.
Beryl had always stated throughout the process that she was ready to move forward and forget about the incident and hopes that the Restorative Justice process would help her to achieve this. However, she did state that she could not forgive Chase for committing the burglary.
After hearing Chase’s words Beryl stated that due to how sorry he was and how genuine the letter was she decided to forgive Chase and wished him well for his future.
When Chase was told that Beryl had forgiven him, he became quite emotional and stated that he thought Beryl was a remarkable lady to be able to forgive him. He also stated that the process has helped him move forward and that he hopes to channel his guilt in a positive manner and concentrate on his recovery.
Beryl said: “I feel better now he has written to me and answered my questions and it has given me peace of mind.
“I have forgiven the offender after making my mind up that I wouldn’t but decided after his letter that I would.
Chase said: “I’ve learned how badly you can hurt people through your own choices.
“People can be so kind, after me doing something so bad – I was still forgiven.”
For more information on Restorative Justice see www.restorativesouthyorkshire.co.uk or call 0800 561 1000 or Text SYRJ to 82055.
**The names have been changed to protect the victim and offender’s identities.