Terror on my doorstep
‘It happened at 11pm one August evening in 2010. My front door bell rang and half asleep I pushed myself out of my chair, turned the door knob and saw two hooded men. I put my foot at the bottom of the door and tried to push the door shut with my shoulder. The door went backwards and forwards in the struggle.
The next thing I knew was an arm coming through the gap and a gun pointing at my left temple. I began to shout that I was being burgled and that they were armed. The struggle seemed to go on forever but it was probably about a minute or so when suddenly the gun and the arm disappeared and my front door slammed shut. I ran down the hall into my dining room just in case the person shot through the glass panels in my door. I counted to 20, looked down the hall and called the Police.’
Justice and mercy
‘The following Sunday I was told that the young man, Ian*, had been arrested and charged. The trial was to be held while I was abroad in New Zealand and I was told I was not required as a witness. I was angry at this. I felt that I should have the choice to attend or not after what had happened had happened to me.
I decided to write a letter to the Trial Judge. In that letter I wrote about The Sycamore Tree course and the prisoners lives I had seen changed by it. I asked the Judge for two things:
- For justice with mercy
- That he be put on a Sycamore Tree Course so he could learn the full effect of his actions
The last paragraph was addressed to my offender. I wrote that I would never forget the traumatic events of that evening, but he was forgiven. If I had the opportunity to meet him in the future I would tell him personally he was forgiven. The Judge read my letter out in full at the trial.
In November 2013 a friend and I travelled down to a prison in Dorset. I was to meet the man who threatened me with a gun on my own doorstep.’
A life-changing meeting
‘We meet in the prison chapel. I was asked to tell Ian what immediate effect his actions on that night. I told him that for several nights after the attack I was unable to sleep, any slightest noise outside my house and I was wide awake. I had nightmares when I did sleep and on several occasions when I woke up sat up in bed in a cold sweat thinking that someone was at the bottom of my bed pointing a gun at me. I told him of the effect his crime had on my family, neighbours and members of the congregation of the church I attended.
I was then asked to put what he had done into the context of the last 5 years of my life. I told him that in 2005 when my wife was alive of two burglaries in the space of 6 months.
These two burglaries had a devastating effect on both of us particularly my wife, she died at Christmas time 2007 and that I felt that although she died of natural causes the burglaries had played a part in her death. I then said “in the middle of all this you came and put a gun to my head.”
Then Ian spoke. I learnt about his life, his childhood, spending most of his young life in prison and his involvement in gangs. I also learnt about that night he had come to my house. He was told that the gang leader and drug dealer who wanted him punished and assaulted because of an ongoing feud. Gang members had attacked his younger brother by mistake he was told they were living at my address, a case of mistaken identity. I was initially lead to believe that the gun he used was an imitation, but I was to learn it was a real revolver with 6 live bullets in the chamber.’
How one sentence saved my life
‘Ian fully intended to kill his intended target. He said to me “Do you know what saved your life Roger? Your accent. When you shouted out you didn’t speak in the accent I was expecting to hear. I then pulled the gun away and ran all the way home. I am so sorry for what happened, sorry is such a little word it does not show how I really feel.” as he said this he put his hand on his chest. I told him “Ian, you are forgiven.” we both stood up and shook hands.’
*Names and locations changed to protect identities
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