In 2009 the offender, Dave, was in a takeaway restaurant when he became involved in a dispute with Phil. Dave punched Phil in the head and knocked him unconscious. Phil never regained consciousness and died later that night.
Martin was Phil’s brother. He had requested Restorative Justice on several previous occasions over many years but this case was always assessed as either being unsuitable or no organisation would take overall responsibility for making it happen. The case was then referred to Remedi in July 2015 by the National Probation Service, who provided a Victim Liaison Officer to co-facilitate the case.
Martin suffered from Asperger’s syndrome and had a very literal interpretation of the events that led up to his brother’s death, which was largely derived from press reporting of the incident. As a result of this Martin believed that Dave had kicked Phil in the head repeatedly and filmed the incident on his mobile phone.
Dave had only previously been known to the Police in relation to a minor public order incident. He was sentenced to six years in prison for the manslaughter of Phil. Our first meeting with Dave was approaching the end of his license and he agreed to participate in Restorative Justice but only until the end of his license, at which point he intended leaving the country.
Over the course of several meetings with Martin it became apparent that he was prone to aggressive outbursts in response to receiving information that he did not want to hear. Furthermore, the two parties lived approximately 150 miles apart. It was therefore felt that in the time available it would not be possible to safely facilitate a face to face meeting between the two parties. Therefore, we asked Martin to compile a list of questions that he would like answering and then took them to Dave.
Dave answered Martin’s questions and went into great depth about what had happened on the night of the incident. His account was very different what Martin believed had happened. According to Dave, he had been approached by Phil who had been verbally abusive and threatening. Dave stated that although he punched Phil once, it is possible that other people assaulted him and he was adamant that he never kicked him in the head. He also gave an explanation about a third party filming the aftermath of the incident. Dave went into great detail about the trial and various pieces of evidence about which Martin was unaware.
As the information provided by Dave differed so much from Martin’s perception of what happened we were concerned with what impact hearing this information would have on Martin’s emotional wellbeing and mental health. We therefore contacted Martin’s psychiatrist and he was of the opinion that receiving the information would be beneficial to Martin and it was the uncertainty in the process which was causing his anxiety. We consulted again with Martin who said that he would like to receive the information at work with a colleague present who he trusted.
In October 2015 we visited Martin and told him Dave’s account of the incident in which his brother died. He was initially sceptical; however, the detail of Dave’s account convinced him that he was hearing the truth about what happened to his brother. Martin said that hearing what Dave had to say allowed him to take “a step towards closure”.