Terminally ill prisoner wants early release to go home and die

Terminally ill prisoner wants early release to go home and die

It's a divisive situation - an inmate convicted of fraud is dying in jail.

Vicki Letele's family want her to be released early so she can die at home. They want her to be on home detention so they can be with her in the final days.

But the Parole Board has declined her application for early release, saying her case is not exceptional and prison staff can adequately look after her behind bars.

Letele was once a rugby league star, a Kiwi Fern part of the 2008 World Cup-winning team.

She wanted to be a police officer but was jailed this year for three years for fraud. She used fake documents to obtain mortgage finance for low-income families, then sold them properties at a profit.

Months after the 35-year-old started her jail term, she began to feel very sick. She was tired, had stomach pains, she lost weight, couldn't sleep and was vomiting.

Letele's mother says prison medical staff diagnosed it as reflux and an ear infection and told her to sleep upright on a mattress.

When she was finally admitted to hospital in September, she was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer and underwent a five-hour operation to remove most of her stomach.

"She's no threat. She could come home, have a bracelet on and save the taxpayers money. We can do what they can't do," says Letele's mother, Tui Letele.

Letele's surgeon says her health will deteriorate over the coming weeks and he would like to think she has six months to live.

"My concern is she's teetering on the brink of being in and out of hospital at the moment; add chemotherapy on top of that, I'm not sure how she will go," says Dr Dave Moss.

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