All the more remarkable, then, that it is a story she has chosen to tell more than 70 times in front of some of the most violent convicted criminals in the country - and plans to continue to tell it, again and again.

For although her son's life ended in tragedy, committed Christian Lyn, 61 - who has a daughter Joanne, 41, and husband Mick, 63, a former church pastor - is determined that his legacy should be one of forgiveness.

Within hours of Paul's murder, she and Mick told reporters at a police press conference they chose to forgive his killers.

'The words just came out of my mouth,' says Lyn. 'It felt like a natural response.'

And for the past seven years, she has tested that instinct to its limits by visiting high- security prisons to meet lifers who have committed crimes just as awful as those of Paul's killers, in an attempt to help them understand the effect of their crimes on people like her.

'When I found out what had happened to Paul, I didn't know how I was going to get through the next ten minutes without him, let alone the rest of my life,' she says.

Though she agreed to take part in a victim awareness programme four years after Paul's death only as a one-off, the numerous visits she has made since have given her a new purpose in life.

'I walked into the prison that first time not knowing what to expect, but the response was incredible. I left thinking: “I have to go back.” '

The healing power of forgiveness is one that the Ministry Of Justice takes seriously: last month, it unveiled a restorative justice pilot scheme at crown courts in England and Wales.

Operated with Victim Support, it will bring together victims and offenders - face-to-face or through letters - in a bid to cut re-offending while helping families to move on.

While Paul's killers have never agreed to Lyn and Mick's request to meet them, she takes comfort from the fact that her story has prompted so many other murderers, rapists and violent criminals to show remorse.

'Although the men who killed Paul have never said sorry, these people have,' she says. 'I went in there to help them - actually, they have helped me.'

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