A MOTHER said it “felt good” to look a burglar in the eye and explain the damage he caused her family.

Tracey Clift sat down with the thief who took irreplaceable items including the medal her grandfather had won in the First World War and a charm bracelet from her father.

She went to meet him in Lewes Prison, where the burglar is serving time for other crimes, almost five years after he broke into her Worthing home via the kitchen window and stole “most of our family history” from the safe.

She said: “I wrote a list of all the things that he had taken from us and when it was my turn to have my say, I just read through the list.

“I did not dare stop and then when I looked up at him I could see he was shaken by it.

“Once he had been able to say ‘sorry’ I think it was a weight lifted off his mind. He needed to say it.”

Mrs Clift understands she was the only one of his burglary victims to accept his request to meet under the restorative justice programme, which gives victims and offenders opportunities to communicate.

She said she was glad of the chance, adding: “If he really did want to say sorry then I wanted him to know what he had taken and really to understand what he had done to us.

“It gave me that chance to have a voice. I could go and look him in the eye and say: ‘You took all this from me and you did not care at the time,’ and for him to say sorry. That was good.”

The meeting was set up by charity Victim Support and the probation service, whose support Mrs Clift praised highly.

The experience prompted her to volunteer with the charity. She understands her burglar is now working well towards reforming himself, adding: “I think he was quite brave to go through it [the meeting].

“It must have been a big step for him to come forward and say: ‘I want to say sorry to someone.’”

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne has expanded restorative justice services.

She said: “This is promising news for victims of crime.”