Sussex burglar meets victims in prison to say sorry

Barrie Williamson
Barrie Williamson

A PROLIFIC burglar, who targeted homes in Eastbourne and was jailed for seven years, has met some of his victims in prison to apologise for his crimes.

Barrie Williamson, 49, was caught in January this year after an intensive police investigation and an appeal on the BBC Crimewatch programme.

In April, Williamson was sentenced at Lewes Crown Court, after pleadeding guilty to four dwelling burglaries in Eastbourne, Hove, Worthing and Seaford in October last year.

The court also took into consideration his admission of a further 39 burglary offences from September last year to January, including six in Eastbourne, two in Seaford and one in Bexhill. Williamson struck at homes in Sussex, as well as in Lancashire, Dorset, Nottinghamshire, Kent, and Norfolk where he took jewellery and cash.

Now, Williamson has met four of his victims, who travelled to Coldiingley Prison in Surrey.

Victims of one of the Sussex burglaries, a husband and wife who do not wish to be named, said; “We found the conference very interesting and an extremely valuable and worthwhile experience.

“Barrie Williamson was not our idea of a stereotypical burglar. He remembered all of the details of the crimes involving all present at the conference and emotions ran high at times on all sides.

“At the end of what was a mentally draining experience, we had probably got all of our anger out of our systems and replaced it with a genuine hope that he would have the determination,support and opportunity to lead a law-abiding life on his release.”

After his sentencing at Lewes Crown Court, officers from the Sussex Police Priority Crime Team visited Williamson in prison where he expressed remorse for his offences and asked if he could say sorry to at least some of his victims. Sussex Police then set up its second Restorative Justice conference to be held in a prison, working with the prison governor, staff and Probation.

Restorative Justice is a forum when police arrange for victims to meet offenders to talk about the crimes that have been committed against them. It takes place after conviction and sentence usually takes place in a prison where the offender is serving his or her sentence.

The RJ process is unique within the criminal justice system since it is a voluntary process and the offender receives no rewards or other incentive to take part. It is based on the principle that those who have been involved in the crime are best place talk about it and look at ways in which the offender may be able to explain and atone for the harm that has been caused.

The victims can ask unanswered questions, with the view of gaining closure and for the offender to stop re-offending.