Christian Police chief forgave his son's killer
By Mike Wiltshire
2010: “Revenge imprisons us, but forgiveness sets us free” - that was the powerful message shared with a Norwich
audience by a Christian father whose son, also a believer, was murdered by a terrorist.
It was national headline news when Stephen Oake, a young detective, and a father of three, was stabbed to death while on an anti-terror raid in Manchester in 2003.
Speaking in Norwich, Stephen’s father, former Chief Constable Robin Oake, told of the night he had to break the tragic news to his wife, Chris, by phone before she heard about it on the 10 o’clock TV news.
“Darling, I have some dreadful news. Please be strong as you always are,” and then I told her, “Our Steve has been murdered on duty.”
Later, a TV reporter asked Robin in a news conference how he felt about his son’s killer. Fighting back the tears, Robin said, “I forgive him” – but he believed that only God could give him the
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair was among the 1,000-strong congregation that attended Stephen’s funeral at Manchester Cathedral. Since then, Robin Oake has written a moving book called “Father, Forgive” and has seen many people across the UK discover afresh the power of forgiveness in the face of extreme personal pressures.
Robin and his wife, Chris, a former nurse, believe that with God’s help, the miracle of forgiveness is possible in every situation. “It is part of the healing process. For us, it has removed the bitterness and anger that we might have had – we’ve been healed from that.”
Recalling his heroic son, who was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal, Robin told his audience at a Norwich FGBMFI dinner: “I thank God for Steve. All the good memories of childhood, the difference the Lord Jesus made in his life, his great marriage to Lesley and their three super kids; his abilities in music, his humour, his expertise as a police officer. I thank God he taught us so much.”
Despite the tragedy of his son’s death, Robin has a fascinating story to share. He became a PC at 19. At 6ft 5ins, he was also keen sportsman and was also popular with the royal family in a varied “and very happy” police career of 42 years.
After service in the Metropolitan Police during the bombings of the seventies, he moved to Bramshill, the senior police officers' college, and then to Manchester’s Moss Side during the time of serious race riots. Finally, he became Chief Constable of the Isle of Man.
As a well-known Christian, Robin has spoken in many venues including the Royal Albert Hall. He and Chris have seen lives transformed as they have shared the Bible’s message of the “why” and “how” of Christian forgiveness.
Their late son, Stephen, became a believer at 15 after seeing the Christian film, A Thief in the Night. Little did he realise he would one day become a police officer like his dad.
Pictured top is former police chief Robin Oake in Norwich and, above, Robin’s late son, Stephen, killed in the line of duty.