Why this Sheffield grandmother will send the crook who burgled her house a card this Christmas

A Sheffield grandmother has explained why she will send the man who burgled her house a Christmas card this year.

Monday, 28th November 2016, 9:27 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 3:41 pm
Judith Gilbert met the man who ransacked her home

Judith Gilbert, aged 75, of Beauchief, had her home ransacked after she left a downstairs window open during a hot summer's night in 2015.

The crook entered the home while Judith's three young grandchildren, who were down from Scotland, were sleeping upstairs.

Judith and her husband met the burglar who broke into the house through the Restorative Justice system, where victims of crime get to meet their perpetrators.

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But instead of giving him a piece of her mind, the burglar apologised and Judith left the meeting with a handshake and a hug.

The crook, who agreed to take part in the process but asked for anonymity, climbed through the window and made off with a computer, Judith's purse, two house keys and the garage fob.

He told Judith he had tried to gain entry to a few houses before spotting the open window.

"The fact that both door keys had been taken, we were no longer secure," Judith said.

"We went to bed that night with a chain on the front door and a chair wedged under the handle of the back door.

"I was feeling guilty that we'd left the window open and I was wrestling with myself on this."

Judith wanted to break the ice before their face-to-face meeting and said she felt the experience was harder for the offender than it was for her.

"I wanted to ask him why he chose our house and what had driven him to steal from us," she said.

“I asked the practitioner to pass on a Christmas card to the offender to help put him at ease about meeting with us. I then wrote him a letter for the practitioner to pass on, to try to make him feel more comfortable and at ease about our meeting.

“We started the meeting off by speaking about the offence and the impact that the offence had on us and our grandchildren. We heard about what our offender was doing in prison with his time and he explained about all of the different courses he is completing.

Judith said she has come to terms with what happened and has forgiven the man who broke into her house.

“I now understand why he did what he did and got to hear him apologise to us. As he shook mine and my husband’s hand I instinctively gave him a hug.

“I am pleased that we chose to take up the offer of Restorative Justice. I hope it especially helps the man who entered out house uninvited to think about his actions and how it impacts on others. He was especially concerned that we had children in the house.

“I will definitely be sending him another Christmas Card this year.”

If any victim of crime would like more information on Restorative Justice, they can call 0800 561 100 or text SYRJ to 82055.