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Case study – Bruce

Bruce was the offender of a crime and his victim requested to contact him through the restorative justice process. Listen to, or read his story.

Listen to Bruce’s story

Bruce was interviewed on the radio about his experience with restorative justice. Listen to his story:

Read Bruce’s story

The incident

I was not in a very good place in my life. I was caught up in drug addiction, a lot of self-hate, self-torture and putting myself under a lot of pressure.

I was thirty, I’d been in out of prison since I was seventeen years old. My life was very chaotic, I could never hold down a relationship or job, always wanting to fit in with my mates. I’d just be drinking and taking drugs, doing crime, wanting to be something I wasn’t”.

On the afternoon of the incident, we were walking somewhere, and saw a handbag in a car. My mate said, “lets nick this handbag”. She had (victim) walked over to the car by then, and the car door was open, so it gave us the opportunity to grab the bag, so that’s what we did.

Nothing else was on my mind, I just focused on getting the handbag to hopefully get some money from the handbag to buy some drugs. We ran off with the bag and got the money out of it, then threw the stuff away after.

At the time, I was caught up in a load of crime and was wanted by the police for other stuff. On the same day (of the offence), the police pulled up. I didn’t think about the handbag, and I ran off. Then I thought to myself I have had enough. I have had enough of my life, I‘ve had enough of being outside, I just want to go to prison and hopefully when I get out, things will have changed.

I was angry and resentful, I’m not going to lie. I didn’t really like Celia (victim) at the time. I really despised her. I got found guilty and I got sentenced to six years for robbery. It gave me a lot of time to reflect on things because it was quite a long time in jail.

I was using a few drugs in prison, but I promised myself when I got out of prison, I wasn’t going to use. But when I was released for about a week, I ended up buying some crack cocaine and some heroin. I just thought to myself what am I doing? I just nicked a handbag, still on licence and I’m smoking drugs, I’m going to end up going back to prison.

I knew I had to make a change

A couple of days later I went to church, and I had a radical touch by God and it absolutely changed my life, taking responsibility for what happened. So, I spoke to my probation officer, and they put me in contact with a few people.

We had a few phone calls and we discussed how we were going to go towards it (restorative justice). We discussed letters, and she (victim) emailed over to the restorative justice practitioner, some questions that she wanted answers to – how do you think I made her feel, how did it make her feel going to a police station late at night, (which had been fairly traumatic for her). She must have been very scared at her age going to the Crown Court to give evidence, so I just answered those questions as truthfully as I could.

Because of the way I lived my life, I never cared about anyone else’s feelings. I could do crime and it wouldn’t affect me. So, I just wanted to apologise for my behaviour and say that I would never be a threat to her ever again.

It really broke my heart. I thought about the victim, I thought about the impact and it touched me. I needed to make amends and to say sorry”. 

Prison took away my responsibility, as I just sat in my cell and got three meals a day, took a few drugs, watched telly and I didn’t grow from it. That was my life.

This (restorative justice) was something I chose to do – to change my life, to grow, to face up to my responsibilities and problems, for the way my life had been, and the way I didn’t want my life to be anymore.  

She (victim) has helped me. She has written me a nice letter, which has touched me so much. I have helped her in her life, and she has helped me.

I don’t beat myself up anymore. I was completely and utterly wrong, but I have made peace with myself, and I have made peace with the victim over it, it is done”.

The victim’s story

Ceila was the victim of Bruce’s crime. She describes how his actions affected her.

Find out more about restorative justice process.

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