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Mum who met son’s killer says restorative justice gave her answers she needed

2 March, 2016

A mother who came face to face with her son’s killer in prison has spoken about how restorative justice helped her move on with her life.

Sandra Poole, whose son Tom died as the result of a single punch at a house party in Blackpool, told of her quest for answers at a packed conference organised by Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner, Clive Grunshaw.

The event, at the Dunkenhalgh Hotel, in Blackburn, highlighted the range of services available to victims of crime in Lancashire and looked at ways services can be improved.

Victims Conference 032Sandra, an advocate for restorative justice (RJ), told delegates of her experience following her son’s death in January 2014. She said she felt powerless and had justice taken away from her when two men were convicted of manslaughter and actual bodily harm following the fight that killed the 23-year-old.

She said: “I needed answers. I needed to know why. It was burning me up and keeping me up at night.”

She said her son’s death changed her life forever but her experience of RJ gave her back her life and helped her to move on.

She added: “I wanted to know what had happened and why it had happened. I needed the answers and meeting them helped me. Now I know.”

Since meeting her son’s attackers, Sandra has stayed in touch with them, exchanging letters. One of them told her he has stopped fighting as a result of meeting her and the experience has change his life for the better.

The Commissioner has funded an RJ team and supported the development of community RJ panels across Lancashire who enable victims to meet those who have wronged them and get answers to their questions.

Sandra was supported by Lancashire Victim Services, which was set up by the Commissioner to provide help and support to victims of crime.

Mr Grunshaw, who also spoke at the conference on Tuesday, said: “Today has all been about understanding the needs of the people who have experienced crime and how we can support them through a comprehensive service.

Victims Conference 045“We are looking at what services we offer under the Lancashire Victim Services umbrella and are they enough? Are there any gaps? What are we doing well and what can we do better?

“It’s also been about us listening to victim testimony, to understanding what individuals need from us and our services, and listening to people like Sandra who have brought first-hand experience of restorative justice and her very powerful and emotional story of how she met her son Tom’s killer in jail.”

Preston Crown Court heard Tom had died following an argument, during which he was punched in the neck. Ryan Calvert was jailed for five years after admitting manslaughter. Shaun Dolan, who pleaded guilty to causing actual bodily harm after kicking Tom in head while he was unconscious, was jailed for four years and three months.

Lancashire Police’s dedicated team of RJ co-ordinators is responsible for arranging RJ in the county the only condition is that both the victim and the offender need to agree they want to take part in the process.

For more information about Restorative Justice and how to take part, contact Lancashire Victim Services’ Restorative Justice team by emailing or call 01257 246318.

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