Alex was filled with regret after he vandalised an elderly man’s car on the way back from a night out with friends. Here, Alex explains how restorative justice helped to make amends to his victim and to move on with his life.
“It was a normal Friday night and I was out with a few mates. On the way home, I got myself worked up over something silly and vandalised the nearest thing just to get my anger out. I knocked two wing mirrors off a car. Afterwards, I went home to my mum’s house with a friend, who was staying over that night.
“A few weeks later I read a story in the local paper about the car mirrors I had vandalised and that’s when the guilt really hit me. I couldn’t stop worrying about it. Initially I didn’t want to tell my mum as I didn’t want to upset her or let her down. But the next day I went downstairs and told her what had happened and asked if she could help me.
“We decided that the best thing for me to do was to own up about what I had done and we went down to the police station together later that day and explained what had happened.
"The police could see that I wanted to put things right."
“It felt good to get things off my chest as the guilt had been building up inside me. Although I owned up, the police still had to caution me and go through the usual things like telling me that I had the right to remain silent.
“The police could see that I wanted to put things right and I don't think they wanted me to get a criminal record.
“After I left the police station I was contacted by a lovely lady called Sandra who came to my house and explained to me what restorative justice was all about and what would happen if I decided to take part.
"When he walked in the room it was very awkward and there was quite a lot of tension in the air."
"I wanted to tell the person whose car I'd damaged how sorry I was, so a restorative justice meeting was set up and I wrote him a letter in advance.
“I was really nervous about the meeting and just before going in I thought about pulling out, but I was determined to put things right.
"I was quite upset when I first saw the victim. He was an old-ish bloke, which is what I was worried about as he reminded me of my grandad. When he walked into the room it was very awkward and there was quite a lot of tension in the air.
"It was hard for me, but I needed to hear how my actions had consequences for those around me."
“I shook his hand and gave him the apology letter that I had written and then we sat down and we told each other our stories. He explained to me that he hadn’t been able to do what he normally would after the incident as his car needed to be taken away and repaired.
"It was hard for me, but I needed to hear how my actions had consequences for those around me. Having my mum there with me was a huge support. The controlled environment also meant that I could take a break whenever I wanted if I felt I needed it.
“If the conversation started to ground to a halt for whatever reason, the restorative justice facilitators, Sandra and Katy, would help to move it along. In the end it felt more like a nice chat than a meeting.
"I’d say to anyone thinking about going through restorative justice to do it, as it really helped me.”
"During the meeting I offered to pay for the damage I had caused and he accepted. With their help, everyone got what they wanted in the end. The victim got justice and I got a clear conscience out of it.
“As soon as I left I was glad I had gone through it, as I knew I had done everything I could to put things right. From then on, I could move forward, put it to the back of my mind and forget about it. I’d say to anyone thinking about going through restorative justice to do it, as it really helped me.”
The Restorative Justice Council would like to thank Alex for sharing his story.
© Restorative Justice Council 2016 – do not reproduce without permission.
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