Shad Ali, from The Arboretum, had campaigned for years for the right to meet his assailant. Eventually he wrote and asked if he could visit.

"I got a six-page letter in reply, in bright red ink," he said. "It was incredibly emotional, full of remorse and asking for forgiveness. He said he wanted to see me."

When the meeting was arranged, earlier this month, it was with the support of restorative justice groups like The Forgiveness Project and the Notts-based initiative Rebuild.

Remarkably, the encounter was filmed, with the support of Notts Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Paddy Tipping, whose office invested £8,000 in the project.

The film will be used as a restorative justice tool, helping convicts and victims come to terms with crime; helping police and probation professionals achieve a better understanding of the issues involved.

Shad Ali's journey to Featherstone began on his first night in the Queen's Medical Centre, where surgeons went to work on his smashed facial bones.

"I'd spent the whole night awake, partly because of the pain, partly because of the shock and partly because I couldn't help thinking about Glenn and what kind of suffering he might have been through."

...For several years, Shad says, he was frustrated by the authorities. He raised the matter with Kenneth Clarke, then the Justice Secretary – but many more months passed before a connection was established with the help of Rebuild, a partnership involving Notts police and probation services, prisons and Victim Support.

Shad Ali felt a film of the meeting between offender and victim would be an invaluable tool for explaining restorative justice and training those who are involved in it.

Featherstone eventually agreed to cameras, the PCC put up £8,000 and Shad found himself sitting in a room waiting to talk to the man who had dominated his thoughts for seven years.

"A cameraman followed Glenn from his cell to the room where I was," he recalls. "We were both very nervous and I stood up and we shook hands.

"We suddenly began hugging each other. I got upset and started crying. We sat down and I talked about the incident as I remembered it.

"Then he talked about it, but he was blurting it at 100mph as if he wanted to get to the end of it quickly so he could apologise. Then he broke down immediately."

The scene was witnessed not only by the film team but also a prison officer and a representative of Rebuild, whose co-ordinator Sgt Deb Barton said afterwards: "Mr Ali has spent years trying to arrange such a meeting and I'm delighted we were able to contribute to the facilitation of it." Kevin Dennis, chief executive in the office of the Notts PCC Paddy Tipping, added: "The commissioner wants to give a stronger voice to victims.

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