Andy had been to the races with a friend, having a good time eating and drinking. At the end of the day, they decided to go and have a meal in a nearby restaurant where they continued to drink. Andy had by now, consumed a large amount of alcohol.
Alex had gone to the restaurant to meet with friends and enjoy a special time with them. This was not something that he was able to do regularly, so he was looking forward to his evening very much. As the evening progressed Alex noticed Andy and his friend because they were loud and were generally being a nuisance to staff and other diners, but he did not become involved.
As time moved on Andy and his friend were asked to leave because of their behaviour. Andy left the restaurant and got in his car and then crashed into another car in the restaurant car park; this was Alex’s car. Alex came out to find his car severely damaged and then suffered racial abuse from Andy, who was arrested at the scene. When he was interviewed by police the next day, he was shown CCTV of what had happened. He had no personal recollection at all of what he had done or said because he had drunk so much. He was charged and later appeared at court.
Following a conversation with his Probation Officer Andy decided that he wanted to explore Restorative Justice to see if the victim would meet with him. He took full responsibility for his actions and was remorseful for what he had done. He hoped for the chance to apologise to Alex, and it was very important to him that he did this face to face. The case was referred to the Essex Restorative and Mediation Service and the team got to work.
Alex was contacted by the service and agreed to meet with their trained facilitators and later with Andy. However, the process was delayed for many and varied reasons, but all the participants were committed to meeting and almost 18 months later it happened.
The meeting between Alex and Andy was honest and at times emotional but each of them came with an openness to hear what the other had to say. Andy gave his apology to Alex which was accepted and during the meeting Alex told Andy ‘I forgive you’ which Andy was pleased to hear. At the end of the meeting, they shook hands and gave each other a hug.
Alex said that his involvement in the process ‘was positive’. He felt ‘very satisfied’ with the facilitators from the service. He would recommend the process to others, and he felt ‘better’.
Andy said ‘I would recommend this process to anyone. It has changed my life. I feel so much better about myself. I would happily talk to anyone who is thinking about doing this but is not sure. Once you have done this process you will be glad you did’.