Robin Oake, a former chief constable
Forgiving his son's killer
As the BBC launches a new series on anger and its effects, we meet retired police chief Robin Oake, who says he has forgiven the man who murdered his son.
In January 2003 Robin Oake, a retired police chief from Shrewsbury, received a phone call to say his son, Stephen, had been murdered. Stephen Oake, who was also in the police force, had been stabbed to death during an anti-terror raid in Manchester.
Stephen Oake with his wife and children
Robin says he was stunned by the news: "He was a wonderful son... he was very brave in his duties... a man who just enjoyed his job, but he also enjoyed his family... he lived for other people".
"I was alone because my wife was in Manchester... I had a few friends to help and a night of sleeplessness to try and prepare for a press conference which was inevitable the next morning... it was very very painful as you can imagine".
At the press conference Robin Oake was asked what he thought about his son's killer: "It took an awful long time to answer it, I know the silence probably seemed longer to me than others, but I was praying... 'Lord give me the right words here' and that's why I said I forgive him".
Stephen Oake was 40 and a Detective Constable with Special Branch when he was murdered during the arrest of a terror suspect in a Manchester flat. His killer, Kamel Bourgass, an Algerian, was jailed for life in June 2004.
In 2005 Bourgass was convicted of plotting to use poisons - including ricin - to cause disruption, fear or injury.
Stephen Oake was a Baptist and he and his family attended Poynton Baptist Church in Cheshire.
His father, Robin, is also a Christian. The former Chief Constable of the Isle of Man Constabulary says God was with his son when he died: "He was there with him... and Steve at that moment was certainly in the presence of Christ".
Robin says he believes forgiveness is possible in every situation in life where someone has been hurt or accused. He says it's part of the healing process: "It's taken from us the bitterness and the anger that we might have had and we might still have... we've been healed from that".
Since his son's death, Robin has written a book Father Forgive, published by Authentic Media in 2008, giving his account of that period in his life and the reasons for his forgiveness: "I did mean it, I do mean it and I actually pray for the man who was convicted of Steve's killing every day, every morning when I get up".
Robin Oake says he has a completely new direction in his life now helping bereaved people, especially those who have lost children: "out of the tragedy has come triumph... helping people... has become part of our counsel".
last updated: 29/09/2008 at 16:04