Let in­mates die at home

Com­pas­sion would ben­e­fit fam­i­lies, says Coro­ner

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS - JACK McKAY

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”.

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