A Nantwich pastor says meeting the man who burgled her church has helped her.
Reverend Michelle Nunn has been speaking about her decision to take part in restorative justice (RJ), which gives victims the chance to ask questions and gain answers from the person who committed the crime - when they otherwise might never have had the opportunity to do.
She has met with 45-year-old Peter Everall from Haslingden, who broke into Elim Church in March to fund a gambling addiction. During the robbery he stole valuables and cash from both the pastor’s office and two of the businesses situated on site.
Whilst serving time for his offence, Peter was approached by restorative justice charity, Remedi, to facilitate a meeting with the pastor of the church he targeted.
After full assessments and a preparation meeting, the pair met with Peter explaining why he committed the offence, and Michelle detailing how his actions had caused harm and distress to the church and its tenants.
Following the meeting, Michelle has spoken out to raise awareness of positive effects of restorative justice.
She said: “I feel so much more positive after meeting Peter. I now have closure and a fuller understanding of who Peter is as a human being and what motivated his offending. We spoke at length about his upbringing and how our experiences can shape the decisions we make.
“I explained to Peter how his actions had affected our tenants and I told him how one tenant had vacated the premises as result of his offending. I really appreciated his apology and I was able to share the positives of the meeting with the congregation and our tenants. I would recommend to anyone that they consider participating in restorative justice should they find themselves victim to crime.”
Michelle gave an overview of her experience to partners in the criminal justice sector at an event to mark International Restorative Justice Week (17-24 November 2019) organised by Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner.
PCC David Keane, who commissions Remedi to deliver restorative justice and mediation practices in Cheshire, brought together representatives from policing, prisons and rehabilitation services.
He said: “Rev. Michelle Nunn’s experience is a perfect example of the benefits of restorative justice for both victims and offenders.
“Victims of crime take part in restorative justice for a number of reasons. They may feel let down by the court outcome or have questions around why the offender did what they did. They may want the offender to know what life is like for them after the offence or they may feel angry and want to express their feelings in a safe way in order to move on. RJ can address any of these issues with its main aim to repair harm.
“It also aims to reduce reoffending by encouraging offenders to face-up to the personal impact of their crime and explore the reasons behind why they committed the crime in the first place.”
Already this year Remedi has offered 227 victims of crime the opportunity to take part in restorative justice with 98 per cent of those choosing to engage in either direct or indirect communication with the person who had caused them harm.
Lisa Gill, manager of Remedi in Cheshire, added: “It was great to see so many partner organisations come together today to learn more about the benefits of restorative justice. I also appreciate rev. Michelle Nunn giving up her time to share her experiences of the process.
“Restorative justice can help victims develop increased feelings of safety, emotional wellbeing and improved ability to cope and recover. It always empowers them, particularly if they haven’t got the desired outcome through the criminal justice system.
“Remedi are here to support any victim of crime and offender in Cheshire and offer a service that is tailored to the individuals.”