Threats to Cause Harm;
Criminal Damage –
Threats to Cause Harm; Criminal Damage
Following an ongoing financial dispute between neighbours Joe and Anne, Joe went to Anne’s home and made threats to harm Anne, her family and their property. Following an investigation by Gardaí, Joe was charged and he pleaded guilty to the offence in Court. He had no previous convictions and, in advance of sentencing, the Judge in the District Court referred the matter to an NGO that delivers restorative justice.
The NGO Caseworker met with Joe who expressed remorse for what happened. Joe took full responsibility for what he had done and expressed a willingness to make amends and to apologise to Anne. The Caseworker then met Anne to discuss the offence and asked her how it had affected her and her family, and what she would like to see happen next. Anne was invited to participate to whatever extent she felt comfortable. Anne had questions that she wanted Joe to address and she wished to discuss a number of matters regarding the offence and its impact. She wanted to meet Joe to discuss what had happened.
The case was considered suitable to proceed to victim-offender mediation as Joe had expressed his remorse and willingness to apologise, and Anne had expressed the desire to meet with Joe in a safe environment to talk about what had happened. Following considerable preparation with Anne and Joe, the Caseworker arranged and facilitated a meeting between Anne and Joe.
At the meeting, Anne discussed the impact of the offence on her and her family. She spoke of the fear and hurt they experienced. She outlined her reaction to what had happened and raised the issues that she felt needed to be resolved with Joe regarding his thoughts and intentions at the time of the offence. Joe responded to the questions raised by Anne. He acknowledged his actions and recognised their impact on her and her family. He described his mental ill health at the time of the offence. He apologised and expressed his remorse and regret.
As the meeting progressed, Joe and Anne agreed that they wished to be able to pass each other in their community and to acknowledge each other. They agreed how to achieve this. It was felt that this was very important given their close proximity as neighbours within the community.
Following the meeting, a report was provided to the Court detailing the restorative process and the agreement reached. Following consideration by the Judge, the matter was finalised in Court by means of Section 1(2) of the Probation Act and a Peace Bond was imposed.
Following the completion of the matter in Court, the Caseworker liaised with both parties to advise of the outcome and to discuss their experiences. Anne expressed her satisfaction with the experience.
Anne said: “[The] agreement reached [was] to pass each other on the street and acknowledge each other. In a small, rural community, it has helped to remove the awkwardness that could have stayed there. I feel it was worthwhile to meet each other. I think it’s the way to go, for two people to meet outside a courtroom instead of between solicitors. To be able to talk to each other”.
Joe spoke about his experience, stating: “I was happy with what was agreed and felt it allowed us to move on with our lives. […] I felt the meeting was fair and gave me a chance to have my say, as well as hearing [Anne’s] point of view. [Meeting Anne] was worthwhile as it gave people who do things in the spur of the moment or out of character a fair opportunity to learn from their mistake. It gives the guilty party a chance to meet with the victim and make amends.”