A man has told the story of how he faced life imprisonment without parole when he shot his victim in the face aged 13, but went on to develop an unlikely friendship with her after a prison phone call.
Contributing to an episode of the Criminal podcast, Ian Manuel recalled that he was messing around with friends when they decided to perform a carjacking with a gun.
Driving the chosen car was Debbie Baigrie. After a confrontation, Ian shot Debbie in the face, as well as shooting at her friend in the passenger seat. He also took aim at Debbie once more as she ran off. Fortunately, the bullet passed through her jaw and she was able to escape.
Ian was arrested and at trial pled guilty to a number of offences including attempted murder. Despite only being 14 years old at the time of his incarceration, Ian went on to spend 18 years in solitary confinement.
Ian explained how on Christmas Eve, after serving eight months of his sentence, he decided to call Debbie to apologise for the suffering he had caused her.
“I just remember blurting out, ‘Miss Baigrie I just called to wish you and your family a merry Christmas and to apologise for shooting you in the face’,” he said.
“I just remember her asking me, ‘Ian why did you shoot me?’ And I just remember telling her ‘it all happened so fast’.”
Ian recalled that Debbie was initially not satisfied with this response, recalling: “She said ‘yeah, maybe the first time was a mistake, but then you shot at my friend, and then you shot at me again’.
“I didn’t really have the answers to give her, so we talked for about 15 minutes, and then I asked her as the phone call was coming to an end, could I give her a call back? And she said ‘yes’.”
From there, Ian continued to develop a friendship with his victim, occasionally calling and writing to her.
He explained that this was in the hope of making amends, saying: “I just wanted to clear my conscience.”
As it turned out, developing a friendship with his victim actually helped Ian to finally be released from jail.
Despite her suffering at the hands of the young teenager, Debbie joined the Equal Justice Initiative, hoping to aid Ian by arguing for a change in sentencing laws.
The group’s campaigning led to the repealing of a law that had required mandatory life sentences without parole for all sentences.
This meant Ian was re-sentenced, and having served his time, he was eventually released from prison.
After his re-entry into civilian life, Ian and Debbie even went for pizza together, and Debbie shared a photo of the pair on Facebook. The picture’s caption said: “Here we sit, Ian and I, 27 years after he shot me when he was 13. He was released today after 26 years, and I was so happy to share his first meal.”
Now in his forties, Ian released a book in May this year about his story titled, ‘My Time Will Come’.
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