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Bombing memorial thieves say sorry

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TWO men involved in the damage and theft of the Bridge Street bombing memorial plaque from Warrington town centre have apologised for their actions.
The pair, aged 57 and 29, attended a special restorative justice conference at Warrington Town Hall where they came face-to-face with those affected by their actions, including Colin and Wendy Parry, the parents of 12-year-Tim, who died alongside three-year-old Johnathan Ball.
The 29 year old, from Newton-Le-Willows, admitted pulling the plaque off its wall fixings late one night in Warrington town centre after he had been out drinking with friends.
He left the plaque on the floor in Bridge Street and walked away from the scene.
The 57-year-old, from Warrington, admitted later picking up the plaque off the floor. He produced it when officers went round to speak to him at this home address.
The plaque in question formed part of the River Of Life memorial in Warrington – a memorial to the victims of the 1993 IRA bombing in the town centre.
The public work of remembrance is owned by Warrington Borough Council and was unveiled by the Duchess of Kent as a symbol of continuing life.
Both men were arrested in June following the release of CCTV images to the media as part of a witness appeal. Both were subsequently bailed pending further enquiries.
Officers from Cheshire Police then met with officials from Warrington Borough Council and Colin and Wendy, to discuss the best resolution to the case and it was decided that a restorative justice conference was the best outcome for all those involved.
This involves offenders being brought to face-to-face with the victims of their crime to help play a part in repairing the harm that has been done by their actions.
The panel also consisted of Cllrs Terry O?Neill and Mike Hannon of Warrington Borough Council and Chief Superintendent Richard Strachan from Cheshire Police.
The men apologised for their actions and heard from the panel about their reactions to theft and how significant the plaque and River of Life memorial is to the people of Warrington.
Following the conference Chief Superintendent Strachan said: “Restorative justice is just one way that Cheshire Police deals with incidents of crime.
“This brings offenders face-to-face with the victims of their crime and allows them to talk about what they have done and why they did it. They then have the opportunity to listen to the full impact of their crime on their victim or victims and apologise for their actions. This process only works if both the offenders and the victims are willing to take part.
“It puts the needs of the victim first as it allows them to be directly involved in the punishment of the offenders ? holding them to account for their actions and providing them with an opportunity to try and repair the harm done.
“This is not an easy option – many offenders find it difficult to take responsibility and face up to the impact of their crimes. Listening to the victim?s side of the story and hearing the impact it has had on them can also be an uncomfortable experience for the offender.
“This has been a challenging experience for the two men involved. They have had to sit and listen to those who have been directly affected by the choices they made that night in Warrington town centre when the plaque was pulled off its wall fixings and then stolen.”
Cllr Terry O?Neill, leader of Warrington Borough Council said: “What has happened here today sends a clear message to anyone who thinks they can commit vandalism in Warrington that they can?t – we?ll always take action to protect and promote our communities and assets. The offenders have taken the first step today to making amends for the foolish actions. The pair have shown remorse and I hope now we can all now begin to move on from this incident.”
Colin and Wendy Parry (pictured right) said “We valued the opportunity to meet the two people who removed the plaque from the scene of the 1993 IRA bombing of Warrington. It enabled us to express in very frank terms just how disappointed and saddened we were by their thoughtless acts, especially as they both live locally. Both displayed remorse and regret for their actions and accepted with good grace the community based punishment suggested by ourselves and supported by the councillors present. We were able to inform them of the importance of the work of our foundation and to help them appreciate that we need support and not mindless acts of vandalism if we are to continue to build the good reputation of the town and its residents. Today we witnessed Restorative Justice in action and we feel it was the most appropriate course of action available to us taking account of all those involved and affected.”
The 57-year-old has agreed to carry out four days of voluntary work to support the Warrington community. The 29-year-old has offered to raise money for the Tim Parry Jonathan Ball Foundation For Peace through a sponsored event. If either man fails to complete this work, then more formal action will be taken.

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About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 40 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with three in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Director Warrington Chamber of Commerce Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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