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23rd November 2015

Tim meets his attacker

Khamran Uddin and Tim Isherwood shake on it as Susy Barnes watches on.

Khamran Uddin and Tim Isherwood shake on it as Susy Barnes watches on.

UNIVERSITY lecturer Tim Isherwood has met his attacker five years after being left unconscious following a vicious unprovoked assault.

Khamran Uddin wielded a baseball bat and struck a blow that knocked three of Tim’s teeth out and left him needing dental surgery. Khamran was part of a gang of four who robbed the graphics design academic.

Khamran was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court to four years in jail. After he was released on licence, the Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company’s Susy Barnes arranged a Restorative Justice (RJ) conference in which he met his victim.

On the night of the attack, Khamran, from Hyde, had rowed with his girlfriend.

He said: “I was very angry and I used the assault to get my anger out. We attacked the victim and took his stuff just for the sake of it.

“I whacked him with the baseball bat and left him as if nothing had happened. I was excited about what we’d stolen, I had no sympathy. I went home and slept like a baby. The only moment I felt remorse – for a split second – was when I saw a photo of his wife and child.

“We considered ourselves a gang – road rats. We were scum.”

Khamran got arrested after carrying out three attacks on the same road later the same year.

The 22-year-old said: “I was honest and took responsibility for what I had done, but I was worried about the sentence’s impact on my family.

“I didn’t start feeling a sense of remorse until I was in prison. The first three months were tough. I was scared, nervous and didn’t know how to act.

“During the sentence my so-called ‘mates’ disappeared, but my family stuck by me. I started to think about my family – I come from a good background – and what I’d put them through, and that’s when I started feeling remorse.”

Like many prisoners, Khamran took part in a victim awareness course.

He said: “I didn’t get any relief from doing the course because I wanted Tim to really know how sorry I was.”

Susy, who is a probation officer, is one of the leading RJ practitioners at CGM CRC. She visited Tim to see if he was interested in meeting Khamran and then arranged for the RJ conference to take place. Each conference is structured so that both participants ask their questions via a facilitator. Susy ensures participants feel as relaxed as possible.

Khamran said: “Meeting Tim was crazy. I expected he’d be scared or nervous, but he was smiling as if I was his friend. I opened up and told him everything. I was 16 when I started going off track. I had a girlfriend, my parents didn’t approve of her and I moved away. I started smoking and selling cannabis. I then became part of a gang.

“I ended up crying when I spoke to him about the photo. It was really emotional.”

Tim, from Salford University, was surprised to be contacted by Susy.

He said: “Susy’s been very influential and enormously helpful throughout the process. Once I was assured Khamran had come forward of his own volition, then I was interested.

“I was nervous on the train on the way to meet Khamran. Susy had explained the process and structure in great detail, and many of the questions that are going to be put to both the victim and the offender are agreed in advance, but it’s impossible to dispel all the fear.

“Khamran was really grilled by Susy and the probation staff present. I found that striking, and was also very, very impressed – he wasn’t let off lightly.

“It rapidly became apparent that he was deeply remorseful. He was in floods of tears as he was speaking, and he talked about his life in some detail. We were all tearful. I was hugely impressed by his honesty.”

Following Khamran’s input and apology, Tim spoke about how the attack had impacted on his life. He had been returning after a night out and was at Hyde’s Flowery Field railway station when he was attacked.

Tim said: “Life goes on. Two days after the assault I went on the same train passed the same station – as I do everyday. I do occasionally think ‘that’s the place where I lay in a pool of my own blood’, and I no-longer go out drinking in town.

“But as with any attack, it’s not just the victim who suffers. On that night my wife was at home, she knew what time the last train was and that I was missing. She’d been frantically trying to contact me, but they had stolen my ‘phone and she was stuck because our children were asleep in bed.

“There is an awful lot of emotion about the fact she was completely trapped and panicking, and that still makes me feel very unpleasant. She was very unsure about me participating in RJ because of the memories it would bring back, but she didn’t tell me that until afterwards.”

As well as processing the trauma that the attack had caused the family, Tim had to do police interviews, deal with the possibility of being a witness in a court trial, process insurance claims, contact the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and undergo dental surgery.

Khamran said: “I knew the attack would’ve affected his family, but hearing him talk about it – I felt a lot of remorse. He said ‘I want you to keep going how you are going and to make something of your life’ – I cried again.

“I affected his whole life, physically and mentally. But he accepted my apology and wished me the best. It was a very powerful moment.”

Khamran is a manager at a factory and is carrying out an apprenticeship in entrepreneurship.

He said: “I think people should definitely do Restorative Justice. It takes courage, but the remorse that I felt has helped me change my life. Victims shouldn’t fear it, it’s a controlled environment and you get the chance to ask your questions.

“I’m trying to show people that it’s possible to change. There’s always hope.”

Tim added: “I talked about the faith I have in our shared humanity, which meant that what I wanted him to do more than anything else was to become a useful member of society. This notion of how we rehabilitate offenders: if we leave them jobless, frustrated, angry and depressed after they leave prison, it seems very obvious that ultimately society suffers because we cannot be surprised that people then go on to re-offend.

“Restorative Justice gave me the opportunity to actually put my beliefs into practice. So when I heard Khamran was progressing well at his job I felt enormously proud to be able to say that what I most wanted from him was a promise to continue on the path that he had set himself along, not the path he was on when we first met.”

Susy added: “When RJ has an impact like that you can almost touch the emotion in the room.

“The way I like to describe how RJ works is that it’s the very opposite of the ‘Jeremy Kyle’ culture, it’s aiming to bring people together to help them learn from the incident that had occurred.

“We all know it’s a big deal asking the victim to participate in RJ. But a crucial aspect of RJ is that the victim gains something out of it as well, and the experience Tim has had is a perfect illustration of that.”

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