Background to Case:
This case was referred to us by the city Youth Offending Team regarding the burglary of a local couple, Susan and Stephen. The offence was committed by three offenders; two of whom were young offenders and one who was an adult offender, Kyle, 18. The YOT caseworker had already conducted RJ with the two young offenders but was unable to conduct it with Kyle as he was technically ‘out of her remit’. We decided to work this case jointly.
Kyle broke into the house in the early hours of the morning via an open window in the kitchen. Stephen awoke with the noise but being disabled could not go and investigate so asked Susan to check. When Kyle saw Susan peering at him he fled the property. He received a one year prison sentence which he was serving at the time the conference took place.
Stephen and Susan had mixed feelings of anger and sadness about what had happened. Susan particularly struggled to sleep through the night and wakes at any noise. As a result of the break in they have had lots of new locks put on the doors and got a dog in order to alert them of any intruders. There was a lot of self- blame from Susan who has a tendency to feel guilty and blame herself for the offender’s imprisonment as she ‘doesn’t think his sentence is in proportion to his offence as he didn’t take anything or hurt anyone’. Stephen said he feels he is still too angry to engage but he is supportive of his wife engaging in a direct face-to-face conference.
Kyle has been ‘consumed with guilt’ relating to both committing the offence and involving the two young offenders. He wants to apologise and is hoping the conference will give the victims closure but also maybe help him move on from the incident.
Following preparation visits to both sides we arranged the direct meeting. Susan explained all the ways their lives had been affected since the offence and how much she blamed herself for leaving the window open. He assured her he was the only one who should feel guilty and apologised for what he had done. They spoke for around an hour and for about half of that time the victim was interested in his life now and what he planned to do with his future. As the conference came to a close the victim expressed a desire to continue contact via letter and the offender stated he would like that.
Since the conference Susan has begun to sleep through the night again. Upon relaying what had happened to her husband he now feels he would like to meet the offender. There has been correspondence between both parties and they have discussed meeting upon his release. Kyle said he felt like it was a weight off his shoulders and he was pleased with how it all went.