28 June 2024

To the Man Who Killed My Dad

A letter I will never send.  I would not know where to send it.  I am not sure I ever would if I did.

Hello Gavin,  

Where do I start?  

You don’t know me.  I don’t know you.  We have never met.  But we are linked, forever.  

All I really know about you is that in August 1987 you were seventeen and driving a fast car when you crashed into my dad on the motorway, taking his life away from him.  Taking him away from me and my family.

The incident was your fault.  You were charged was driving without due care and attention, which sounds ridiculous when you did in fact take a man’s life away.  But I cannot change that.  It feels wrong.   Even now.

I was 8 years old the day my father died.  My childhood, my life, was unequivocally changed forever by your actions.  I hated you.  I felt that way for so many years.  Can you really blame me?

You were the demon in my dreams who took my dad away from me.  The man who loved me so much.  The man who read me stories on a Sunday morning and brought me surprises on a Friday night.  The man that I still miss so much, decades later.  In my eyes, for a long time, I thought that you should have been rotting away in prison, suffering.  As much as we suffered.  

I am in my 40s now.  I have lived through much and have come to some realisations and understandings.  One of them is that hate solves nothing.  

Strange as it sounds, when entering into working life, I went into civil litigation.  Road traffic accidents.  Helping to bring claims against people like you who had caused accidents, damage, injury and death.  It was not a conscious decision that I remember making, but it is where I ended up.

These days I work with far tougher cases.  Cases of historical abuse.  The worst you can imagine.  It has changed me in many ways.  I went through a lot because of your actions but nothing compared to those I speak to on a daily basis.  I have learned from those people about moving on.  Acceptance.  Perspective.

You were seventeen.  I know how easy it is to make a stupid mistake.  Especially at that age.  You made a very big mistake that day.  A huge one.  One that took a life.  A life that you did not intend to take.  

You did not set off that day intending for things to happen in the way that they did.  But they did.   You did “borrow” your girlfriend’s sports car.  Which you were not insured to drive.  You did drive too fast and lost control.  You did hit my dad’s car.  You did kill him.

None of us are the same people we were at seventeen, at twenty, at twenty five even.  I know I am not.  I want to think that you changed too.   That the recklessness of that day and the effects of your actions, changed you.

You will always have what you did that day over your head.  That first mistake of taking the car, that snowballed into death.

I cannot imagine what it is to know that you have done that.  All that I can imagine, all that I hope, is that the gravity of what happened taught you some lessons and you lived your life in a better way.     Probably not right away.  Because you were, no doubt, in shock too.  You were too young for something so serious.  

I don’t hate you anymore.  Hate is a hard thing to hold on to in your soul and eats away at you.   Now I can put myself in your shoes and feel sorry for you, in a way.  You made a mistake.  You have had to live with that mistake every day.  That has to be hard.  Your life altered forever, just as mine did.  

I don’t owe you anything Gavin, I certainly don’t owe you forgiveness.  But I do forgive you.  I forgive you for the mistake you made.  Because by forgiving you, I can let go of the hate.  I understand now that the stupid actions and decisions you made as a teenager do not make you a bad person.  An evil person.    You were someone who made a bad choice.  

I do hope that you were truly sorry for what you did.  You never said that you were sorry, we spoke to your insurance company, not you.  But again, you were seventeen and had just killed someone.  I get it.

You did take a life, but I hope that you managed to deal with that and make something good of the rest of your life.  

Goodbye Gavin.  I won’t think of you anymore, writing this has been helpful.  I don’t wish you happiness, but I don’t wish you sadness anymore.  I am done.


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