16 May 2017

Prisoner who won compassionate leave battle dies

9:48 am on 16 May 2017

The terminally-ill prisoner who won her fight to go home on compassionate release has died.

vicki letele 2

Vicki Letele Photo: supplied

Vicki Letele was jailed last year for property fraud. Soon after she started her sentence she was diagnosed with stomach cancer and given six months to live.

Her family unsuccessfully appealed to the Parole Board for an early release, before the Corrections Department agreed to review the decision.

Corrections urged the board to urgently consider compassionate release, resulting in that decision being overturned in November, and Letele being released from Wiri Prison.

Her brother Dave said she died peacefully surrounded by her family last night.

He said they were blessed to spend the last months of her life with her, and it was especially important for her children.

The Letele family was now making plans to farewell her later in the week.

Precious moments Thank you all . I'm am so happy #freedom #shesfree #freevicki

A post shared by Dave Letele (@brown_buttabean) on

Sociologist Jarrod Gilbert said there was a hard balance between upholding justice and acting with humanity, but in the end the board made the right decision.

"The reason that Vicki Letele was released was because she had a family who lobbied extremely strongly on her behalf. A lot of prisoners obviously don't have that. Without that, without question, the Parole Board would not have looked at this a second time."

Dr Gilbert said he would like to see a list of all prisoners released on compassionate grounds, to see if there are any trends, such as whether there was more sympathy for white-collar criminals.

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