Let inmates die at home
Compassion would benefit families, says Coroner
RELEASING prisoners early to die with their families would be of “significant benefit to the family of the dying person”, says a coroner in the case of a man jailed for child sex offences.
State Coroner Terry Ryan made the comments in the findings of an inquest into the death of Mark Ian McLaughlin.
He died in custody of a brain tumour about two months after being jailed for offences relating to the possession of child exploitation material and using a carriage service to distribute child pornography in April 2016.
In his report, Mr Ryan made reference to unsuccessful attempts that were made to seek McLaughlin’s release from prison on “exceptional circumstances parole, in view of his rapidly deteriorating condition and expected death”.
According to Mr Ryan, it appeared McLaughlin may not have been considered eligible for exceptional circumstances parole because he had also been sentenced to Commonwealth offences.
He suggested that the Commonwealth Attorney-General could grant a licence for a person to be released under exceptional circumstances, and that they may consider if the prisoner had a serious medical condition that could not be adequately treated or managed within the prison system.
“While these provisions clearly require parallel applications for exceptional circumstances parole to the (Commonwealth) AttorneyGeneral and the Queensland Parole Board where a prisoner is sentenced for Commonwealth and State offences, there is no legal impediment to the early release from custody to palliative care of persons suffering terminal medical conditions on compassionate grounds,” he wrote.
“In appropriate cases, such early release would clearly be of significant benefit to the family of the dying person, who are otherwise left to endure the decline of their next of kin, who is likely to be restrained, in the presence of custodial officers in circumstances where the person poses no risk to community safety.”
In Queensland, a prisoner can apply to the parole board for exceptional circumstances parole on compassionate grounds if they are seriously ill.
McLaughlin was taken to hospital about two days after he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment, which was to be suspended after five months.
He died on June 20 with family by his side.
The Coroner noted that McLaughlin’s son had no “criticisms or concerns regarding the treatment of his father”.