Birstall robbery victim speaks out about meeting her attacker
The victim of a violent robbery in Birstall has spoken out about the moment she met the man who attacked her.
The woman, named only as Janine, was walking back from her son's home in Birstall when she took a shortcut under a railway bridge when she was attacked by a man she named as Aaron.
Janine, who was a recovering alcoholic and said the incident made her start drinking again, was walking home when she was grabbed, shouted at, and attacked, before her handbag was stolen. Whilst the perpetrator was caught, convicted and sent to prison, Janine was left with post traumatic stress disorder.
She said meeting Aaron was something she was anxious about but by the end she said it felt like having a chat with a friend - and the pair even swapped cheesecake recipes.
She said:" Because it had such an impact on myself, I wouldn't leave the house for three months. I thought I needed to get some closure to it, and to get some answers as to why he had done it and what had caused him to decide to mug me.
"I just wanted answers really, because one of the things that really worried me was I was supposed to take my granddaughter with me that particular day but she got invited to one of her friend's birthday parties so she didn't. And I was always concerned that if I had my granddaughter with me, would he have still approached me and mugged me?
"The impact on myself was terrible, and to think of what impact it would have had on my granddaughter. I wanted that clearing up."
In the emotional video, Janine reveals she is a recovering alcoholic and the impact the attack had on her made her start drinking again.
"I wanted Aaron to know the impact he had. That I was struggling myself in recovery and due to this I had picked up again, and I wanted him to know that. It isn't just like you mug them and then off you pop with their stuff. It's not only myself it impacted but it was my family as well.
"Through picking up again, I lost contact with my children. They wouldn't let me see my grandchildren. There was a really severe domino effect and I wanted to get that across to him as well."
She said the only thing she remembered about Aaron was the "piercing vicious eyes" that had "haunted her for months" and seeing him again could help put that behind her.
Janine added: “It was great. He spoke first, and he was very apologetic, and I could tell he was sincere. He answered all my questions truthfully and I explained about the impact it had on me.
"He was just a very, very nice young man actually. He'd learned a lot while being in prison. He just seemed like a genuinely sincere young man and his apology was really sincere.
"It went a lot better than anticipated and it brought closure to a horrific incident. If you have the opportunity to do it, then do it, I’d thoroughly recommend it.”
Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “Firstly, I want to say a massive thank you to Janine for her bravery in sharing her experiences and helping other victims of crime.
“Done with the skilled facilitation of trained and experienced individuals, it can help victims to reduce feelings of anxiety, empowering them as part of their recovery.
“It also allows a discussion with the offender about taking responsibility for their actions, whilst managing the risk of further harm. This approach has been shown to reduce the chances of repeat offending.
“No offence type is excluded from restorative justice, requests into the service are treated with the utmost sensitivity.”