Case Studies

Careless Driving Causing Injury

Steve was driving to the wharf to do some fishing when he lost concentration and pulled into the path of another vehicle, driven by Katie. The collision resulted in Katie suffering severe injuries, requiring a lengthy hospital stay, numerous blood transfusions and several operations. However, as Katie's injuries were not immediately apparent at the crash site, Steve was unaware of the seriousness of Katie's injuries until many months later. When Steve pleaded guilty to a charge of careless driving causing injury, he asked for the opportunity to meet with Katie and she agreed.

At the restorative justice conference, Steve explained why he had not been in touch with Katie sooner and apologised for causing her pain and suffering. Katie told Steve about the full extent of her injuries and the ongoing challenges she faced on her road to recovery. She explained that her main concern had been the fact that Steve had not even checked to see how she was and she had assumed that he did not care. Steve's personal and heartfelt apology allowed Katie to move on and they agreed to stay in touch so that Steve could be kept up to date with her progress.

At his sentencing, Steve was convicted and discharged, given a mandatory 6 month driving ban and ordered to pay Katie compensation for her injuries.

Speaking about the restorative justice process, Steve said:

"I found the Restorative Justice conference to be a worthwhile exercise and it gave us a chance to talk together and share things about each other which we would never have known otherwise. I was able to apologise to Katie face to face for what had happened and we could openly discuss our own feelings to the situation we both found ourselves in."

For Katie, the meeting was an important part of her healing process. She said:

"The process gave me a sense of closure. It gave me a chance to voice my concerns and also allowed me a sense of forgiveness after hearing from the driver of the other vehicle. It was a great opportunity for both parties to heal and move forward in our lives."

*Names have been changed.

Obtaining by Deception

Sue was employed by a social services agency. Part of Sue's role was to process invoices by arranging for cheques to be signed and paid. Over a period of 8 months, Sue submitted a series of false invoices in the names of some existing service providers. She then cashed the cheques and kept the money for herself. In total, Sue stole over $11,000 from the agency through the submission of 50 false invoices.

Robert was the manager of the agency that employed Sue. He agreed to represent the agency in a restorative justice conference so that he could tell Sue about the impact her offending had on her colleagues and on the service that they provided. Robert explained why her ex-colleagues were unable to face her and how her offending had harmed the reputations of individual staff members and the agency.

The restorative justice meeting gave Sue the opportunity to take responsibility for what she had done. Arrangements were made for Sue to pay the money back to the agency which she did through a loan from a family member. She also returned a number of important items to the agency that were still in her possession.  Robert was able to represent the views of agency staff, work out a resolution for the repayment of the money and determine whether or not Sue's apology was genuine.

18 months after the conference, Robert and Sue were contacted. Of his experience, Robert said:

"Although a sizeable period of time had occurred between the arrest of Sue and the restorative justice process, a large percentage of staff were still feeling quite raw from the theft. As the senior manager on site, I represented the views of our staff. Mana restoration for us (and by default for Sue) evolved from processes of forgiveness and, to a lesser extent, from the return of finances and resources. As a result of our involvement with restorative justice, we have become keen followers and supporters of a process that releases our pain and restores our faith in ourselves."

Sue had completed her sentence of 9 months home detention and 200 hours of community service. Speaking about the restorative justice process, she said:

"I was pleased that there was such a process as I believe it gives the victims and offenders the opportunity to come together and discuss their feelings of hurt, disappointment, remorsefulness, anger and sadness.  This is done in a safe, supportive and confidential manner.

Being a part of this process was very nerve wracking.  Having to face your victims and hear how they feel is not easy because the people I hurt were not only work colleagues but were like family and the worst part was they trusted me, and I let them down.

My reason for initiating this process was not only for me to take responsibility for my actions but to be accountable for my wrong-doing. I wasn't asking for forgiveness; I just wanted to say "I'm sorry".

2 years on I can honestly say by being a part of this process I am able to hold my head up high.  I made a huge mistake, which has affected my career for the rest of my life. However, going through the restorative justice process has given me an important lesson in life: "stand up and be accountable".  This experience has made me become very grateful for what I have because I could have lost it all.

The outcome of this process was an amazing experience for me. We came together twice and at the end we shook hands and hugged - that said it all really!!!!!  I do know the hurt is still raw for some, but I'm hoping one day this will dissipate."

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