Published 16 November 2018

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The son of a woman who was brutally assaulted with a machete by her ex-partner has come face-to-face with her attacker, thanks to restorative justice.
He was just nine-years-old when the attack happened.
His father, who had separated from his mother, went to the family home on learning that she had begun a new relationship. He brutally assaulted her, and her new partner, leaving both victims with life-changing injuries.
He then fled the country, but was arrested nine years later and sentenced to 15 years for attempted murder and grievous bodily harm.
More than 20 years after the attack, the father and his son have now met to talk about what happened. Their restorative justice (RJ) conference was facilitated by Restorative Solutions, a not-for profit organisation funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott.
Tony Walker from Restorative Solutions said:

‘The son, now grown-up, had not had any contact with his father since the incident. He was worried that his father was coming to the end of his sentence and was due to be released. He wanted to tell his father about the impact the offence had had on him and his family.
‘His father was willing to engage in RJ and at the conference both participants were given the opportunity to have their say, and to ask and answer questions. The outcome was that the offender agreed that he would not contact the family and would avoid the area where they lived. He also agreed that should they meet accidentally, they would not acknowledge one another.
‘Afterwards, his son said that he felt lighter and as if a weight that he had been carrying had been lifted, because the spectre of his father being a monster had been removed. He was also less anxious about any threat to his mother and sisters. The offender said that he was glad to be able to reassure his son that he no longer posed a threat to the family.’

Mr Scott launched the new RJ service for Kent and Medway last year. Since then, Restorative Solutions has received more than 260 referrals and is currently supporting more than 50 cases.
Speaking on the eve of International Restorative Justice Week (November 18 - 25), Mr Scott said:

‘I commission the service because bringing victims and offenders together under RJ can be a very powerful tool in reducing reoffending. It enables victims to tell offenders the real impact of their crimes, get answers and possibly receive an apology. It also gives offenders the chance to understand what they have done, take responsibility for their actions and consider ways to make amends for their behaviour.
‘It has been a busy year and I thank everyone for their hard work.’

It is important to recognise that RJ is a process which both the victim and offender volunteer to go through. It is in addition to whatever outcome is reached by the criminal justice system. It is not an alternative to a court sentence and will not result in the offender having their sentence reduced.
If you have been a victim of a crime and you live in Kent - or the offence happened in Kent but you live elsewhere - you can visit the RJ Kent website for more information about the RJ service.