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Vicki Letele 'overwhelmed' by support

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 10/11/2016

The brother of the terminally ill woman who was released from prison with only months to live says the process to get his sister out has been a nightmare.

Vicki Letele's brother, Dave, says it was "stupid" the Parole Board originally decided she'd have to stay in prison, he told RNZ on Friday.

He said there was a lot going on in prisons that New Zealanders had no idea about.

"We live in a compassionate country with human rights, but a lot of them have been broken."

Mr Letele thinks his sister's case is an example of institutional racism.

"She got three years, her co-offender got home detention... I think my sister suffered because of her surname. It's just a joke."

Letele was eight months into her sentence for fraud, and was released on Thursday after supporters put pressure on the Department of Corrections to let her live out her last months at home.

"We went through all the procedures, and when that didn't work, we used every contact we had. We don't think it should've had to come to that.

"It was quite clear that they were unable to care for her and they just kept making mistake after mistake in the prison," said Mr Letele.

The hospital staff at the prison maintained they would be able to care for Ms Letele until she fell into a coma.

"That's just heartless," he said.

"It was stupid, but it took public pressure for them to see that. It would've been a political nightmare if they'd have kept her in there."

Sitting down and eating dinner together on Thursday night was a blessing, Mr Letele told RNZ.

"It's her birthday on Monday, and it's probably going to be her last one here."

He added that although her children had taken it in their stride, they were now "over the moon" that their mum was home.

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