Dave and Pat Rogers’ son, Adam, was killed by a young man in Blackburn town centre on 5th July 2009. With the loss of their son, their lives changed forever. After the court case was over, Dave felt a real need to talk to the young man who’d been convicted of the killing. He wanted him to hear directly about the harm and hurt he’d caused.
Dave and Pat Rogers’ 25 year old son, Adam, was killed after he’d tried to break up a fight in the town centre of Blackburn back in July 2009. He’d been out with a group of friends that evening. When the group was set upon by another bunch of young men, Adam tried to isolate one of them in order to stop him from joining in the fight. This young man was so drunk and angry at being restrained that he punched Adam in the face. The punch knocked him out and caused him to fall to the ground. This resulted in a head injury which was to prove fatal.
The loss of a much loved son
On that night the Rogers’ life changed for ever. Together with their other three sons and many of Adam’s friends they were devastated by grief. They describe Adam as a gentle person, a wonderful son and brother and a true friend. Over the next few months they went through the ordeal of seeing William Upton, the young man who delivered that fatal punch to Adam, arrested and tried in court. He was found guilty of causing Adam’s death and was sent to a Young Offenders’ Institution.
The court case, although resolved satisfactorily, left Dave and Pat with some questions about what had gone on that night that they knew only William Upton could answer.
“I’d heard of the concept of restorative justice even before we lost Adam, and thought it sounded like a good idea. I just never dreamed back then I’d ever need to seek it myself one day”, said Dave.
“I had a feeling after the court case that I wanted to meet William. I made some enquiries and eventually – several months later – the probation service arranged a meeting with him at the young peoples’ prison near Warrington where he was being held. We later learned that he had also asked his offender manager if it would be possible to meet us. Pat wasn’t ready to be in the same room as him, but she supported me going and understood why I needed to.
Communicating the damage and hurt
“I wanted to meet him because I wanted him to be sure he fully understood what he’d done to us. At the trial he did not appear to show genuine remorse – this was remarked on by the judge at the time. I really needed him to understand that what had happened was his fault.
“After I got into the room and we sat down, the first thing he did was apologise. I think the whole thing was harrowing for him. I think he knew at this point that he’d done alot of harm.
“I told him that I knew he’d been doing alot of positive things in his time in prison by helping with disabled people and doing other voluntary work.
Friends – along with family – suffer too
“I also told him that it wasn’t just us – Adam’s family – who have suffered. It was his friends too. Adam’s death had a big effect on them. I don’t think he’d realised that.
“I felt it was important for him to know who Adam was – they were strangers to each other when it happened – so I told him alot about my son. I showed him photos of Adam. He asked if he could have one and I gave it to him.”
Dave feels that his meeting with Adam’s killer was very worthwhile. He is now a strong advocate of restorative justice.
Since losing Adam, the Rogers family and Adam’s friends have run an anti violence campaign called “Every Action has Consequences.” Dave is a frequent speaker in schools and is also involved in prison work.
This story is not to be reproduced without the express permission of Why me?