Emma Boyes, of Huddersfield, said while so-called ‘restorative justice’ meetings might not be for everyone, they helped her to deal with the emotional pain she had been left with after father John Radford died following a road-rage attack in 2013.
She spoke ahead of the launch of a new service which will work across West Yorkshire to arrange meetings between offenders and their victims, if both sides agree, as part of the rehabilitation process.
Mr Radford, 69, had been cycling in Holmfirth when a motorist had an argument with him and hit the back of his bike, causing him to fall off and suffer catastrophic brain damage.He was left in a vegetative state and died in 2015, with the motorist jailed for causing death by dangerous driving.
Mrs Boyes, 38, said throughout the justice process, she had been aware that a meeting with the motorist could be possible, but it was only after she sought medical help for the long-term emotional effects of the trauma that she decided it was something she wanted to do.
She said: “I was a lot angrier than I had possibly realised, because you learn to live with your emotions.”
She said she asked her sister, Helen Gorman, if she would join her and a meeting was set up with the motorist at an open prison in Doncaster.
Mrs Boyes has asked The Yorkshire Post not to name the motorist, acknowledging that he had now served his time.
She said before the meeting she had thought about backing out.
“Losing your dad is traumatic, “ she said.
“You have really got to step outside of your comfort zone, you have really got to find courage, to sit in front of someone who ruined your life, ruined your mum’s life, ruined your children’s life. I was dreading it. But when I did it I just felt thankful I had done it because it has made such a massive difference.”
She said that “being able to see that he was remorseful and being able to feel he could answer questions we had” had been hugely helpful.
“It honestly was the best thing I have ever done,” she said.
A variety of restorative justice services have been operating across West Yorkshire for the past few years, but this is the first time one provider will offer the service across the county.
West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson has commissioned Preston-based non-profit organisation Restorative Solutions to run the scheme for the next three years in a contract worth Â£900,000.
He said it was a “huge step forward” for an approach which helped to prevent reoffending.
“There is clear evidence of the difference this approach has made and I have worked extremely hard over recent years to reach this vision in conjunction with police and key partners,” he said.