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Offering maternal comfort to my daughter's killer

maryfoley-s.jpg (9162 bytes)Mary Foley sat through the whole of the  four-week trial of 18-year old Beatriz Martins-Paes, her daughter's killer, at London's Old Bailey in March 2006.  At first, Mary had been consumed by fury and disbelief at the loss of her 'beautiful baby' Charlotte and, unsurprisingly, felt only bitterness towards her daughter's killer. But as she sat through the trial her emotions began to change. Gradually, she felt anger give way to a desire to help her daughter's killer.

She forgave Beatriz then, and now wants to offer a maternal guidance and comfort to her.


On 10 April 2005, 15-year old Charlotte Foley left her home in Stratford, East London, and after spending time with her father, went on to a friend's 16-year birthday party.

Beatriz Martins- Paes had an ongoing feud with one of Charlotte's friends and wanted to confront her rival at the party. But the girl did not turn up - instead, Charlotte was to become her victim. They argued after bumping each other on the dance floor and Martins-Paes followed Charlotte to an upstairs room and stabbed her once, piercing her heart. As Charlotte's friends rushed to help her, Martins-Paes fled and was quickly arrested. Meanwhile, Charlotte's life ebbed away.

'It was after 1 am when the phone woke me up. It was one of Charlotte's friends,' remembers Mary.   'She was totally distraught and said: "Charlotte's been stabbed, she's in hospital" Then the phone went dead. Next, the police rang and said they'd take us to the hospital. By the way they were driving, I knew it was very serious.   At the hospital, I was led to a room. A nurse and two doctors came in.  The nurse just said: "I'm so sorry, Charlotte's dead." 

'I just couldn't believe it was true. There was no way I could begin to take in the fact she was gone. I hadn't even had a chance to say goodbye. The following day, we went to identify her body. I stared at her - a sheet covered her up to her neck and she still looked alive, just lying there so peacefully. I prayed that some miracle would happen and she would start breathing.

'At the trial, at first I felt: "You hurt my baby, you killed my baby." I wrestled with that - forgiveness did not come immediately.'

Martins-Paes admitted manslaughter but denied murder. The jury  heard how she'd gone to the party with two knives hidden in her handbag, which she claimed  were for self-defence. She sobbed as she told the court: 'None of this was  supposed to happen. It was just a mistake.'

The girl's troubled background was described. She had a history of violence and had drawn up a hit list of 18 people to kill. Even while on remand, she attacked a woman police officer.  Her father, Julio Martins-Paes, is currently wanted by police in connection with the attempted murder of her mother, Natercia.  She was found guilty of murder and on 20 March was sentenced to life with a minimum of 14 years to be served.

Mary recognises that forgiving Beatriz doesn't mean thinking she shouldn't be imprisoned: 'I think justice has been done - her sentence will send out a strong message to other young people considering carrying a knife.'  But while she agrees with the strong sentence, Mary, a devout Christian, refuses to write off her daughter's murderer.

'No one's there for her and she thinks she's worthless. I can try to fill that gap in her life and be the person who believes she has something positive to offer. In a way I feel maternal towards her. Maybe because I'm Charlotte's mum, I can influence her to learn something while she's in prison.' 

Reveal Magazine, 15 April 2006

Index of stories illustrating the dimensions of forgiveness

Listed by title

jump to :  Listed by author


A better way than 'justice' - The Interpreter (Randolf, Frank & Zaillian)

A forgiving town : Warrington - Michael Henderson

A gift he does not deserve - John Arnott

A guy in a hole (The West Wing) - Aaron Sorkin

"A little bit brave" (The West Wing) - Aaron Sorkin

A mother forgives her son's killers - BBC News

A place for forgiveness to aim for - Andrew Knock

A poet's release - Victor Parachin

After false accusation - Joseph Bernardin

An elder brother returns home - Henri Nouwen

As foolish as you (from 'Friends') - Gregg Malins and Scott Silveri

Bishop asks forgiveness for supporting Iraq war - Tom Frame

Bono calls for debt forgiveness - BBC News

Building someone a new roof - BBC documentary

Business improves when people apologise - Jeff Grabmeier

Compassion for under-age sex - Ananova News

Deeper friendship - Anne Naylor

Discernment and healing - Smith Wigglesworth

Divorce services in German churches - News Ananova

Doing favours and gaining power - Puzo and Coppola (The Godfather)

Don't play by the rules (Dharma and Greg) - Chuck Lorre

Don't sack, show compassion - Associated Press

Ending a marriage - Susan Reimer

Excuses and transferring blame - J R R Tolkien

Father and son - Ernest Hemingway

Forgive us our international debts - Bill Clinton

Forgiveness for the Holocaust? - Albert Friedlander

Forgiveness: the cost of doing business - Aaron Sorkin

Forgiveness is so very human - Steve Goodier

Forgiving a murderer - Wendy Cole

Forgiving each other - Stanley Cavell

Forgiving my daughter's killer - Marietta Jaeger

Forgiving my father - Kate Morrow

Forgiving myself - John Wimber

Free to choose? - David & Stephen Koepp

Gandalf and Saruman: an exchange - J R R Tolkien

Gossip and evil - Lori Palatnik & Bob Burg

Grace in a 'bad' man - Mike Yaconelli

Having a past - William Willimon

Hillary Clinton on forgiveness - Hillary Clinton

His failure is your failure - Juan Carlos Ortiz

How many times? - Harry Farra

How much is it worth? - The Desert Fathers

I am in no position to condemn others - Paul Reid

I bear no grudge - Gordon Wilson

I cannot forgive him - Corrie Ten Boom

I like imperfection - Sandra Bullock & Jordan Riefe

I too have transgressed - Seiji Takaku

"I was wrong" - Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing)

If I were in his place - Paul Tournier

Imitation and conformity - John O'Donohue

Imprisoned yet released - Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Indonesian urges forgiveness after his release - Open Doors USA

Judge's mercy and wife's forgiveness - AP report

Justice and reconciliation in East Timor - Catherine Napier

Justice is good; mercy is better - John Arnott

Letting go of hatred for the Holocaust - Harold Schulweis

Letting it go - coldly - Francis Ford Coppola & Mario Puzo

Listening without recoil - Helen Bamber

Love and forgiveness - David Watson

Loving your enemy - Francis Frangipane

Lying gets into the culture - Jeffrey MacDonald

Mandela - leadership in reconciliation - Desmond Tutu

Metaphors for forgiveness in South Korea - Prince Charles Oteng-Boateng

Moral complexities and Jesse Jackson - Tony Allen-Mills

Mother pleads for mercy - BBC News

National Reconciliation in Ghana - Justice Amua-Sekyi

New organs, new life - AP/BBC

No problem - Juan Carlos Ortiz

Nobody looks good that close up - Ann Donahue (CSI)

Northern Ireland / Standford Hope Project - Fred Luskin

Notting Hill - Richard Curtis

Olive trees for Palestine - Shalom Center

Paid the fine - Nicky Gumbel

People may be expendable - (U-571)

Pity - J R R Tolkien

Planting a seed - Hasidic tale

Policeman and robber in Wyoming - Angus Thuermer

Practical forgiveness - Jennifer Kavanaugh / Fred Luskin

Prayers not condemnation when marriage ends - Daily Telegraph

Prince Charles: no longer victims of history - Michael Henderson

Professor launches forgiveness course - Ananova

Racial division and forgiveness - Colin Tipping

Repentance is not forgetting - Søren Kierkegaard

'Scientific' forgiveness - ABC News

Scottish victims give life to Palestinian girl - BBC News

Seeing into a killer's mind - Suezann Bosler

Seeing people for what they are - Billy Burns & Stephen Korsa-Acquah

Seeing the real source of our pain - Judea Pearl

Seeking forgiveness in Egypt - BBC News

Student loan forgiveness - Scholarship Resource Network

Sparing him greater grief - The Desert Fathers

Spiritual midwife - Andrew Knock

Stolen money - Margami Mohammad

Success, blame and a sinner - William Willimon

Talking with an IRA bomber - Stuart Wavell

The death penalty doesn't 'close' anything - Ronald Carlson

The Forgiveness Chit - Kentucky Spiritual Growth Network

The holiness of the gaze - John O'Donohue

The letter or the spirit - Juan Carlos Ortiz

The relationship not the issue - Bryan Bell

The Spanish Prisoner - David Mamet

The West Wing : larger worlds - Aaron Sorkin

The void of benign neglect - Susan Reimer

There indeed by the grace of God go I - The Desert Fathers

They'd just make me feel worse - Philip Yancey

Trondheim: merciful justice - Simon Hattenstone

Truth and reconciliation in Sierra Leone - Joyce Mulama

UN considers Restorative Justice guidelines - RJ.org

Unique moments - Martin Buber

US Episcopalians say sorry to Iraq victims - Bill Bowder

Vengeance chic - Jason White

Wait a minute - John Jewell

Wanting to calm my fears - Dale Wolery

What I have cleansed - Ray Stedman

What we do with what happens - Elizabeth Ruth Obbard

When churches prevent forgiveness - John MacArthur (& others)

When they destroyed my work - Gregory David Roberts

Why ask for my forgiveness? - Michael Rosen

Writing off bad debts - John Arnott

Yom Kippur : Acknowledging my wrongs - Miriam Weinstein

You are still carrying her - The Desert Fathers

Stories listed

by author or speaker

ABC News - 'Scientific' forgiveness
Tony Allen-Mills - Moral complexities and Jesse Jackson
Justice Amua-Sekyi - National Reconciliation in Ghana
Ananova News - Compassion for under-age sex
Ananova News - Divorce services in German churches
Ananova News - Professor launches forgiveness course

John Arnott - A gift he does not deserve

John Arnott - Justice is good; mercy is better
John Arnott - Writing off bad debts
Assoc. Press - Don't sack, show compassion
Assoc. Press - Judge's mercy and wife's forgiveness
Assoc. Press/BBC - New organs, new life
Helen Bamber - Listening without recoil
BBC documentary - Building someone a new roof
BBC News - A mother forgives her son's killers
BBC News - Bono calls for debt forgiveness
BBC News - Mother pleads for mercy
BBC News - Scottish victims give life to Palestinian girl
BBC News - Seeking forgiveness in Egypt
Bryan Bell - The relationship, not the issue
Joseph Bernardin - After false accusation
Corrie Ten Boom - 'I cannot forgive him'
Suezann Bosler - Seeing into a killer's mind
Bill Bowder - US Episcopalians say sorry to Iraq victims
Martin Buber - Unique moments
Sandra Bullock - I like imperfection
Billy Burns & Stephen Korsa-Acquah - Seeing people for what they are
Ronald Carlson - The death penalty doesn't 'close' anything
Stanley Cavell - Forgiving each other
Bill Clinton - 'Forgive us our international debts'
Hillary Clinton - Hillary Clinton on forgiveness
Wendy Cole - Forgiving a murderer
Francis Ford Coppola & Mario Puzo - Doing favours and gaining power
Francis Ford Coppola & Mario Puzo - Letting it go - coldly
Richard Curtis - Notting Hill
Ann Donahue (CSI) - Nobody looks good that close up
Desert Fathers - 'How much is it worth?'
Desert Fathers - 'Sparing him greater grief'
Desert Fathers - 'There indeed by the grace of God go I'
Desert Fathers - 'You are still carrying her'
Harry Farra - How many times?
Tom Frame - Bishop asks forgiveness for supporting Iraq war
Francis Frangipane - Loving your enemy
Albert Friedlander - Forgiveness for the Holocaust?
'Friends' - As foolish as you
Steve Goodier - Forgiveness is so very human
Jeff Grabmeier - Business improves when people apologise
Nicky Gumbel - Paid the fine
Hasidic tale - Planting a seed
Simon Hattenstone - Trondheim: merciful justice
Ernest Hemingway - Father and son
Michael Henderson - A forgiving town : Warrington
Michael Henderson - Prince Charles: no longer victims of history
The Interpreter (Randolf, Frank & Zaillian) - A better way than 'justice'
Marietta Jaeger - Forgiving my daughter's killer
John Jewell - 'Wait a minute'
Jennifer Kavanaugh - Practical forgiveness
Kentucky Spiritual Growth Network - The Forgiveness Chit
Søren Kierkegaard - Repentance is not forgetting
Andrew Knock - A place for forgiveness to aim for
Andrew Knock - Spiritual midwife
David & Stephen Koepp - Free to choose?
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross - Imprisoned yet released
Chuck Lorre - Don't play by the rules (Dharma and Greg)
Fred Luskin - Northern Ireland / Stanford Hope Project
Fred Luskin - Practical forgiveness
John MacArthur (& others) - When churches prevent forgiveness
Jeffrey MacDonald - Lying gets into the culture
David Mamet - The Spanish Prisoner
Margami Mohammad - Stolen money
Kate Morrow - Forgiving my father
Jonathan Mostow - People may be expendable
Joyce Mulama - Truth and reconciliation in Sierra Leone
Catherine Napier - Justice and reconciliation in East Timor
Anne Naylor - Deeper friendship
Henri Nouwen - An elder brother returns home
Elizabeth Ruth Obbard - What we do with what happens
John O'Donohue - Imitation and conformity
John O'Donohue - The holiness of the gaze
Open Doors USA - Indonesian urges forgiveness after his release
Prince Charles Oteng-Boateng - Metaphors for forgiveness in South Korea
Juan Carlos Ortiz - 'His failure is your failure'
Juan Carlos Ortiz - No Problem
Juan Carlos Ortiz - The letter or the spirit
Lori Palatnik & Bob Burg - Gossip and evil
Victor Parachin - A poet's release
Judea Pearl - Seeing the real source of our pain
Paul Reid - I am in no position to condemn others
Susan Reimer - Ending a marriage
Susan Reimer - The void of benign neglect
Restorative Justice org - UN considers Restorative Justice guidelines
Gregory David Roberts - When they destroyed my work
Michael Rosen - Why ask for my forgiveness?
Scholarship Resource Network - Student loan forgiveness
Harold Schulweis - Letting go of hatred for the Holocaust
Shalom Center - Olive trees for Palestine
Aaron Sorkin - A guy in a hole (The West Wing)
Aaron Sorkin - A little bit brave (The West Wing)
Aaron Sorkin - Forgiveness: the cost of doing business (The West Wing)
Aaron Sorkin - "I was wrong" (The West Wing)
Ray Stedman - 'What I have cleansed'
Seiji Takaku - I too have transgressed
Daily Telegraph - Prayers not condemnation when marriage ends
Angus Thuermer - Policeman and robber in Wyoming
Colin Tipping - Racial division and forgiveness
J R R Tolkien - Excuses and transferring blame
J R R Tolkien - Gandalf and Saruman: an exchange
J R R Tolkien - Pity
Paul Tournier - 'If I were in his place'
Desmond Tutu - Mandela - leadership in reconciliation

David Watson - Love and forgiveness

Stuart Wavell - Talking with an IRA bomber
Miriam Weinstein - Yom Kippur - Acknowledging my wrongs
Jason White - Vengeance chic
Smith Wigglesworth - Discernment and healing
William Willimon - 'Having a past'
William Willimon - Success, blame and a sinner
Gordon Wilson - 'I bear no grudge'
John Wimber - Forgiving myself
Dale Wolery - Wanting to calm my fears
Mike Yaconelli - Grace in a 'bad' man
Philip Yancey - 'They'd just make me feel worse'
 

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Last modified  19 Apr 2006