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Terminally ill fraudster denied bail

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 1/11/2016

A convicted fraudster and mother of three has been denied early parole despite being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

The woman, who the Parole Board has not named, was in March sentenced to three years and two months' jail over a $500,000 mortgage fraud.

She is up for parole in April next year, with her full sentence to end in May 2019.

But last week she asked the board to consider an urgent hearing meeting to consider parole because she had been diagnosed with terminal metastatic cancer and given less than six months to live.

Her lawyer told the court the woman wanted to be home with her partner and their three children, aged three, six and 19.

Several doctors and social workers also submitted letters in which they supported "release to a home environment where she can be supported by family and carers".

But the Parole Board found exceptional circumstances were required to prompt an early hearing and said a terminal illness did not meet the that threshold.

"It is a sad fact, but not unusual, that prisoners may suffer serious illness, physical or mental, or injury, whilst serving their sentence," parole board chair Warwick Gendall, QC, said.

He said the case did not qualify for release on compassionate grounds either.

"Usually, compassionate release is made on condition that the prisoner reside in a hospice to receive the end of life palliative care," he said.

"It is not the case that compassionate release referral is granted simply because an inmate is seriously ill."

But he said if the situation changed, the board would reconsider compassionate grounds.

"The time will inevitably come when [her] condition deteriorates to the extent that she requires hospice care, and, at that time, compassionate release would be appropriate," Justice Gendall said.

"But at the moment that is not the case, given the very careful management of her condition by the health team that is being undertaken in prison."

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