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Ray and Vi Donovan: Why we forgave the gang who kicked our son to death

Point of View is an ITV News series where we invite people to share their life experiences and what they've learned from them.

Ray and Vi Donovan forgave the gang of teenagers who kicked and stamped their son to death.

Letting go of the hate was like "putting down a glass of poison" that would otherwise have destroyed her, said Vi.

Christopher Donovan was on a night out in Ewell, Surrey, with his younger brother Philip nearly twenty years ago when they were attacked by a gang of teenagers.

Christopher Donovan

They took penalty shots to his face and body - and they stamped on his head.

In court they asked a witness could he describe it. He said I can't describe it I'll have to show you.

And he got out the witness box into the well of the court and brought his leg up so high and with the power of the stamp it rang round the whole courtroom.

That's the force of stamping on his head.

– Ray Donovan

The gang left Chris unconscious in the road where he was hit and dragged along by a car.

Three of the 14-strong gang were convicted of his murder. The Donovans had to move home after being targeted by a graffiti campaign supporting one of Chris's killers.

Ray and Vi eventually came face-to-face with the trio who killed Christopher through the restorative justice scheme.

Restorative justice is about the victim getting answers to questions - sometimes it can lead to forgiveness. It's you getting answers - that's the main thing and the absolute truth.

The first one we were going to meet comes in the room and I just stood up and went to hug him.

He came over to me and put his arms around me and whispered 'thank you'.

And I find myself saying to him, 'Hey young man - we forgive you. Move on and have the life that Chris can't have'.

I remember thinking all that time ago in the hospital that they were animals. But this person I saw in front of me - he wasn't the animal anymore. He was a human being.

– Ray Donovan

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