CASE STUDY: Section 20 GBH, Robbery, Possession of Bladed Article
Background to Case:
This case was referred to us by the city Youth Offending Team regarding the violent robbery of a University student, Carl. The offence was committed by Gary, 18, who was a young offender at the time of the offence but is now classed as an adult offender making it out of the YOT caseworker’s remit. It was Carl’s mother Isabelle who was interested in communicating with the offender.
Carl was lured to the area by Gary’s co-defendant under the guise that they had found his missing bike but in actual fact they planned to rob him. When they asked him to hand over his belongings he was reluctant and so Gary lunged at him with the knife stabbing him once in the chest. They then stole the items and ran away. Gary’s co-defendant received a community order and Gary received an 8 year prison sentence which he was serving at the time the indirect RJ took place.
Carl’s mother had been debating for a while over whether she wanted to ask the offender some questions. She did not want to involve Carl, the direct victim, as he had just returned to University after having time off to recover. She was very angry and felt very protective of her son and could not understand how anyone could do this to another person. She was still in shock by the fact that her son could have been killed and it was all over a mobile phone. She wanted to know ‘was the price of a phone worth damaging someone psychologically’ as well as whether he had any remorse or regrets about the offence.
Gary had committed other similar offences and at the time had not seen a problem with carrying a knife or stabbing people because ‘it happened to his friends all the time’. Since being in prison he has started to understand how his behavior was wrong and he has matured a lot. He feels really bad for what he did to the victim especially when he found out he had learning difficulties and he wanted to apologise to the victim and his family and was willing answer any questions.
All communication and preparation with Carl’s mother was done via phone as she lives in Wales. There were four questions she wanted answering which I gave to the offender when visiting him in prison and left them with him to prepare answers or write a letter. He found it very difficult to respond to them as he didn’t want to sound insincere and his answers were quite short. I emailed the responses to mum then rang her to discuss her thoughts. She was pleased with the responses and from what she read and what I said she believed that his responses and remorse were genuine. She wanted me to pass on her thanks to the offender.
Mum was considering following the letter up with a direct meeting but when she raised the issue with her son Carl he was not interested in talking about it as he has ‘moved on’ so she did not wish to take things any further. She was glad she had the opportunity to ask the questions she did. Gary was pleased that he had the chance to apologise as it was something he had asked about when first going to prison. He feels he can concentrate more on the future now.