A brave Doncaster woman, who confronted a member of the sadistic gang that subjected her to a night of torture, says the experience has helped her to take back control of her life.
Due to a lost letter Summer Gregg, 20, missed seeing Amy Gaines, 23, James Canning, 22, and Jay Blades, 22, get sent to prison for the eight-hour-long attack they carried out on her in 2015, during which she was beaten with a metal chain and piece of wood, repeatedly kicked, punched and slapped, made to ‘act like a dog’ and was even urinated and spat on.
But after contacting Remedi, South Yorkshire's Restorative Justice provider, Summer was given the opportunity to come face-to-face with Blades who is serving a four-and-a-half year sentence at Doncaster Young Offenders' Institute, and ask him why he 'almost murdered' her.
Summer, of Doncaster, said: "That man had almost murdered me and I was sat in a room with him, talking like a normal human being, and I felt completely safe and if it wasn't for Restorative Justice I never would have been able to do that. I can't even walk down the street now so to say Restorative Justice helped me see my attacker is a massive achievement for me really.
"It made me feel like I was in control again because he had to leave the room, he had to have a few minutes to gather himself up.
"The fact that he felt like he had to do that around me made me feel a lot better because the last time when I saw him then was completely different. So to see I affected him I made him feel bad was a good feeling I suppose because it at least made me see he had some remorse, some regret for what he did - that's what he's got to live with for the rest of his life now.
"He seemed apologetic for what he did, but when I asked him why his only answer was that I said something about a family member that he didn't like but, again, I don't know him so I couldn't comment on his family"
During the attack, which Judge Julian Goose branded ‘an appalling episode of cruel and violent behaviour to a vulnerable woman,’ Summer was so desperate to escape her sadistic attackers' clutches she considered jumping out an eighth-floor window.
Summer continued: "With Restorative Justice you can ask the offenders whatever you want so it's sort of like whatever power they've taken from you, you've taken it right back. That is now your power, because you've had the chance to say: 'no, I don't want to see you' or 'yes, I do want to look you in the eye and tell you how much you've ruined my life'."
"I told him how much it had affected me, that I couldn't just do what I normally do with my life [since the attack] but I suppose my pride got in the way a bit because I didn't really want to tell him how scared I was because going to this prison, it was a big thing, you don't just do that every day of your life and I suppose if you told them that you were scared that would mean they'd won."
But while she was able to confront Blades, formerly of St James' Street, Doncaster, Gaines and Canning refused to take part in the Restorative Justice process with her, which she says means she is still struggling to get closure on what happened to her.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, said Summer's case was an example of how Restorative Justice can work.
He said: "Principally, it's about victims and giving them back a measure of control which is what victims talk about and enabling them to feel that something, very often when they're in the criminal justice system feel like it's all going on around them, they have no say in the matter, no control in the matter so this is a way of giving them some say, some control to anyone who is a victim of any crime and that's what we're trying to do."
All three of Summer's attackers pleaded guilty to charges of wounding and false imprisonment, in connection with the attack in 2015. They were jailed later that year.
Gaines, formerly of Thrybergh Court, Denaby, and Canning, of Plantation Close, Askern, were sentenced to five years in a Young Offenders’ Institution. Blades, of St James Street, Doncaster, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in a Young Offenders’ Institution.