Assault Causing Harm –
Assault Causing Harm
Cian, who was in his late teens, was assaulted in a nightclub during a night out with a group of friends. Brian, who was also in his late teens, was charged with the assault. He had no previous convictions.
Brian was highly intoxicated and believed that Cian had pushed him in the smoking area of the nightclub. He retaliated by punching Cian several times. Cian was left with a substantial injury to his eye and missed a number of days work due to his injuries, and was therefore out of pocket. Cian’s mother was also considerably impacted, feeling anxious about her son and the thought of further trouble from Brian.
Brian pleaded guilty in the District Court and the matter was referred to an NGO that delivers restorative justice. The NGO’s Caseworker then met with Brian to discuss the offence and his attitude towards it, assessing the suitability of the case for restorative justice. He displayed a high level of remorse and shame, and a willingness to apologise and make reparation to Cian.
The Caseworker contacted Cian to discuss the offence and what he felt needed to happen next. Cian’s mother, Louise, was also impacted by the offence in that she was concerned about what happened and wanted reassurance that something like this would not happen again. Both Cian and Louise were willing to participate in victim-offender mediation with Brian.
As the parties were willing to participate, Brian had expressed his desire to put things right and Cian and Louise’s expectations of the meeting were clear, the case was deemed to be suitable for victim-offender mediation. Following significant preparation, two Caseworkers, Cian and his mother, and Brian attended a meeting. Brian was asked if he wanted to have a family member present at the meeting, but declined. During the meeting, all the parties got the opportunity to discuss what happened (or, in Louise’s case, how she came to hear about what had happened), as well as how they felt at the time and how they and others were affected.
Brian was upset to hear the extent of the injury he caused Cian. Brian explained that he had too much to drink on the night, although this was not an excuse for his behaviour. He explained that he was ashamed of his actions and that it was out of character for him. He expressed his hopes to pursue a career in health care and realised that his actions on the night could have had serious implications in relation to this ambition. This was a source of great anxiety for him. He reassured both Cian and Louise that he had learned from his mistake and that this would not happen again, and he apologised for the harm and upset caused.
Cian described the impact of the offence on him and his family. He spoke about his injury and the loss of earnings incurred as a result. He also reported feeling nervous about what might happen if he met Brian again. Louise described feeling upset when she saw Cian’s injury. She was worried that something like this would happen again and that the outcome could be even worse the next time. She was also worried about retaliation amongst the two boys’ groups of friends.
At the mediation, everyone agreed that the meeting should be the end of the matter. Both boys agreed to inform their friends that the issue was resolved and that there should be no interference from them. Both also agreed that they would greet each other politely if they met again in the future. The parties reached an agreement for how Brian could make reparation:
- Pay €1000 compensation towards lost earnings and medical expenses incurred as a result of the assault.
- Carry out voluntary work within his community.
Brian apologised a number of times throughout the meeting, and the meeting concluded with all parties shaking hands. Cian and Louise asked to be kept informed about Brian’s progress.
During an agreed period, Brian completed all of the tasks that were agreed as part of the reparation. The Caseworker stayed in contact with Brian and supported him in completing it. The Caseworker also continued to liaise with Cian and Louise to keep them informed of Brian’s progress. Cian received the agreed financial compensation.
The Caseworker provided a report to the District Court that detailed the restorative process, the agreement reached, and the reparative tasks undertaken. Following consideration by the Judge, the matter was dealt with by means of Section 1(1) of the Probation of Offenders Act, meaning that no further sanction was imposed.
Following the restorative meeting, Louise reported a shift in her feelings towards Brian. She had initially felt apprehensive about mediation. After meeting, however, she expressed concern for Brian’s mental health and the impact a conviction might have on his future. Both Brian and Cian reported finding the meeting a worthwhile endeavour and were glad to come to agreement regarding how to act around each other if they met in the community. Brian was satisfied that the Contract was fair and was glad to have the opportunity to apologise and move on.