Background to case:
The offender broke into a church and stole a donations jar, also causing damage to the door and gate which resulted in expensive repairs.
The victim in this case was identified to be the church warden and the reverend. The reverend was representing the church and the warden was the first on the scene following the offence and had to wait in the church alone until she could be assisted. She explained that she was scared to move around the church when she found it had been broken into as she didn’t know if the offender was still there or if they were armed/dangerous/violent. She stayed near the door waiting for the police. The reverend advised that the donations jar that was taken was to help people in need and that if the offender had needed help he would have been provided with it rather than taking this route.
The offender expressed deep remorse and was extremely ashamed of his actions. He advised that he was looking for money for drugs and the break in to the church was not planned, just that the opportunity presented itself. He feels guilty upon reflection as he knows that the church helps people.
The offender agreed to meet the victims at the church. The offender immediately apologised when they met and went on to explain how he had found himself in that situation. He said he didn’t expect forgiveness but wanted the church to know how sorry he was. The victims accepted his apology and forgave him and said that they would pass the message on to other members of the church. They asked that he forgive himself and move on from this incident to a better way of life and to not reoffend.
The victims thought that the meeting went really well and that they hope the offender can forgive himself as they could see he was carrying the guilt with him. They were really pleased with the process and were very positive about the outcome. The offender was extremely positive about the process, said that it was like a huge weight off his shoulders and that he did not expect forgiveness from the victims. He still feels very remorseful but very much appreciated the victim’s kind words and feels like he can move on from this. He also said that he would be happy to speak to other offenders who are unsure about the process to explain what a good thing it is to do.