28 May 2019

Vicki Letele's family confirm report critical of prison care

1:43 pm on 28 May 2019

A prisoner whose treatment was criticised in a Health and Disability Commission report was Vicki Letele who had been jailed for fraud, her family have confirmed.

Terminally ill prisoner Vicki Letele.

Vicki Letele Photo: Supplied

Yesterday's report revealed that a female prisoner with advanced gastric cancer died after receiving inadequate healthcare at a South Auckland prison.

Her brother, Dave Letele has confirmed the report related to his sister.

Vicki Letele died in May 2017, after being granted compassionate release from Wiri Prison following a terminal diagnosis and a high-profile campaign by her family.

She had been serving a three-year jail term for property fraud.

Mr Letele said he hadn't yet received a written apology from Corrections or the nurse involved as recommended in the report.

The Parole Board declined Vicki Letele's initial request to be freed from her sentence for fraud because of her stomach cancer, but reversed that decision in November of 2017 after a vocal campaign by her family and supporters.

At the time, Mr Letele said his sister was denied release for so long because of institutional racism.

"I think that my sister suffered because of her surname," he said.

"It took public pressure for them to see that, it became political and it would have been a political nightmare for them if they kept her in there," he said.

On her release Ms Letele said said she hoped other terminally-ill prisoners would not have to go through what she did, and was glad her release on compassionate grounds would benefit other families.

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