Family of murdered policeman forgive terrorist killer - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
April 14, 2005

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Family of murdered policeman forgive terrorist killer

-14/04/05

The family of murdered police officer Stephen Oake have spoken of their forgiveness for his killer, who was convicted yesterday at the Old Bailey of separate terrorist offences.

Stephen Oake's family, well known for their Christian faith, said they pray for Kamel Bourgass every day.

They also say they have long forgiven him for murdering the husband, son and father they loved so deeply.

Bourgass was found guilty of the killing last year but it could not be reported publicly until his trial on separate terrorist offences had been concluded.

When Lesley Oake, his widow, finally came face to face with Bourgass, her husbandís killer, as he stood in the dock at the Old Bailey during his murder trial, she could feel only pity, reports the Times newspaper.

Mrs Oake, 42, said: ìI just felt quite sad in a sense that things had gone so wrong for this person. That is my motherly instinct, I suppose.î

DC Oakeís father, Robin Oake, also said yesterday; "We have been praying for him and we will continue to do that. I have forgiven him. This is why we are not deeply bitter and not angry and thrashing around wanting revenge. I will continue praying for this man."

Stephen Oake, a Special Branch constable for Greater Manchester Police, was stabbed to death in a bedsit along Crumpsall Lane, Manchester, on what Mike Todd, the forceís Chief Constable, described as a ìterrifying and traumatic dayî in January 2003.

Since then, Mrs Oake admitted, there have been days when she has been so grief-stricken that she has not wanted to get out of bed. However, sustained by her Christian faith, she has been determined to carry on for the sake of their three children.

The officer was a Christian and lay preacher at the Baptist Church in Poynton, Cheshire, where he lived with his family.

Rev Rob White from the church said: "He combined toughness with tenderness - a rare combination of qualities."

Mrs Oake met her husband while they were in their teens. They were both 21 when they were married and two decades of family life, she says, had only enriched and deepened their relationship.

They brought up their children, Christopher, now 17, Rebecca, 16, and Corinne, 14, in their suburban terrace home in Poynton, Cheshire, close to the evangelical church that was at the hub of their lives.

To the familyís surprise, Stephen Oake had followed his father into the police force. He was entrusted with the protection of VIPs, including senior members of the Royal Family and politicians, during the Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

ìEnjoying such a close relationship with my husband has made it harder,î Mrs Oake said. ìIt has been devastating.

ìEach day we took time out to chat over the dayís problems. So there are lots of things that happened on a day-to-day basis we miss, as well as the obvious physical presence of a person whom you love very much.

ìAs a family, we have just tried to continue to love life the best way we can. There are days when, I have to confess, I have not wanted to get out of bed, but for the sake of the children, you do.

ìWe have helped each other along the path in that way. Yes, there is sadness at the loss, but there are also lots of memories that we can keep with us for the future and the children are happy. They are young and have a future to look forward to.î

Mrs Oake, looking sun-tanned in a black, short-sleeved dress, sat beside Robin Oake, her father-in-law, during the interview. She did not need the box of tissues placed beside her as she recalled the night that her husband died.

She said: ìI am a human being and I have experienced a real rollercoaster of emotions, but you have to allow it to surface and level out and look to the future for everybody.

ìNobody wants to see a loved one suffer, but it was very short for Steve. It is hard to cope with because he was in the prime of his life. It has not been a normal bereavement by any means.î

She said that going to court every day was a very difficult part of the grieving process. ìI had some extremely difficult days and had never been in a courtroom, so the actual surroundings were overwhelming. But it was a necessary process that you have to go through for Steve and all the other officers who were involved, because he was not the only victim of this.

ìI am just pleased it is over. I just feel quite numb really and extremely sad that this whole thing came about in the first place.î

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