They say it takes a strong person to say sorry, and an even stronger person to forgive. That’s certainly true in the case of Kostas and his family.
Prior to my conviction in 2002, I was a law-abiding citizen with an impeccable record. I’d been in the same job for 20 years and also volunteered for several charities in my spare time.
Other than my work and charity interests, my only other focus was my wife and children. I was really proud of my children, they worked hard at school and I encouraged them to do everything they could to reach their full potential. So, when one of my daughters made the decision to leave home and I later found out that she’d secretly married her boyfriend, I was in total shock.
Her behaviour was so out of character that I struggled to comprehend what had made her take the course of action she had. I went to see her new husband’s family; I thought that together we could try to get the couple to see sense. I thought they were too young to get married and I wanted my daughter to come home. However, they didn’t want to get involved.
News of my daughters marriage started to spread through my local community, and I was approached by several gentlemen who all had their own issues with my new son-in-law. They offered to help me bring my daughter home. Every night I’d see the strain on my wife’s face so worried was she about my daughter’s safety and well-being. We both felt totally helpless and unfortunately, I allowed myself to be influenced by these gentlemen.
This lack of judgement saw me convicted of conspiracy to murder my son-in-law and sentenced to time in prison.
During my time in custody, I was able to reflect on my actions and the impact it had on my daughter and son-in-law; I totally regretted what I’d done. I knuckled down and served my sentence, completing various courses and offering support and help to other prisoners who were struggling to come to terms with their sentence.
In that time, I worked hard to try and rebuild my relationship with my daughter, her husband and his family. I’m pleased to say that I now have an excellent relationship with them all and I’ve become a devoted grandfather as well. I recognise how fortunate I am that I’ve been allowed back into the family fold.
One of the downsides of my conviction is the difficulty I’ve had in finding a job. I’ve not been able to go back to my previous career and the nature of my offence makes a lot of employers deem me to be too much of a risk. After a lot of research, I made the decision to apply for a taxi licence and sent all my forms off to the local council.
Soon after I’d submitted my application I received a letter from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) informing me that they were considering putting me on the barred list. I knew that if I was barred I’d never be able to get my taxi licence and so the only thing I could do was to write to the DBS putting forward the reason why I didn’t think they should bar me.
I drafted my letter to the DBS and asked my daughter to have a read through it and let me have her thoughts (she’s really good at things like that). She gave me some valuable feedback about how I could improve my letter but the most surprising suggestion she made was to tell me that her husband (my victim) would be happy to write a letter of support!! Two families have been hugely impacted by my actions and I’ll never under-estimate the severity of what I did. The fact that my son-in-law was prepared to help me just shows how far we’ve come in rebuilding our relationship.
Not long after sending my letter to the DBS I received their response confirming that they wouldn’t be putting me on the barred list. It’s fantastic that they’ve reached this decision and I’m now just waiting for my licence to be issued.
By Kostas (name changed to protect identity)
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