Nine years ago, Jacob Dunne threw a single punch outside a pub in Nottingham. His victim, James Hodgkinson, died from his injuries in hospital just a few days later.

Jacob has created a podcast during lockdown telling of his experiences since that day, his time in prison and how restorative justice has changed his life. The podcast, The Punch, tells us of his complex journey of exploring the lasting impact of his own crime and how he eventually met James Hodgkinson’s parents, Joan and David.

Through interviews, the podcast makes the case for restorative justice as a way to bring healing both for victims’ families and offenders.

Jacob, then aged 18, was convicted of manslaughter and served 13 months of a 30 month custodial sentence. Joan and David thought this was too short a sentence but eventually decided to take part in a restorative justice programme. They wanted answers about what happened to their son. So they communicated initially with Jacob through letters, then mediators and finally met face to face.

Jacob began a process of hearing in detail what Joan and David had been through, learning about their son James – how he had been a paramedic, was adventurous and loved sport – then consumed with guilt and shame Jacob decided he wanted to move forward in a positive way.

Jacob’s main motivation became honouring James’s life by changing. To change for Joan and David; as with one life already lost, they didn’t want Jacob’s wasted too. With their encouragement, Jacob wanted to continue his education. He completed his GCSEs and eventually went on to university to study criminology, graduating with a First.

Jacob, now 28, has a young family and is friends with his victim’s mother Joan, who says she has been through a process of forgiveness. He mentors young offenders and travels around giving talks and workshops about restorative justice, sometimes alongside James Hodgkinson’s family.

Ultimately, The Punch is devastating in its honest account of the long-lasting impact of crime on lives and the journey of restorative justice. As Jacob says, “I would definitely say I’m a reformed character, but it’s a work in progress; something that you work on everyday.”