THE family of a convicted burglar who has been released from prison early to die as a free man believe the next few days could be his last.
Brett Duxbury, 36, who has been suffering in-operable lung cancer since February, has twice been denied compassionate leave to rejoin his mum and three children in Oswaldtwistle.
But on Tuesday - after the former Rhyddings pupil’s sickness rapidly deteriorated - he was granted release by the prison service from a five-year sentence he was serving at Lancaster Castle jail.
Today, as the Observer went to press, Brett was still admitted at Lancaster Hospital but preparing for the long awaited return to his mum Alison Whewell’s one-bedroom Union Road flat.
Alison, 54, said: "Brett will be coming home at some point today (Thursday) and it’s made his day. He’s not improved but we just want him with me.
"They have told me two days on the trot he won’t see the day out but he’s a fighter until the end."
Former roofer Brett’s plight for early release has been covered by the Observer ever since June, shortly after his mum started a campaign to free him.
A petition on the social networking site Facebook followed, urging the Justice Secretary Jack Straw to allow Brett home.
On Wednesday a tearful Alison said: "I was told by a consultant that it might only be hours before he dies. I’m angry he’s not been let out earlier. He’s just not going to last much longer."
She added: "You have got to be bedridden or dying and that’s exactly what’s happened.
"He could have been free for weeks or even months if he’d got out at the same time as the Lockerbie bomber.
"He could have had some quality time at home instead of being free and tied to tubes like he is now."
She added: "He would just have been better off at home. His condition is so poor."
Brett’s sentence for twice burgling the home of an 83-year-old woman was due to end in January 2010.
In May he was deemed a medium risk to the public and in August he wasn’t considered ill enough – so was denied leave by the Ministry of Justice on both occasions.
The debate regarding his release also went national after BBC’s the One Show covered Alison’s need to get Brett home.
Frances Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform said: "I am glad that the prison service has released Brett Lee Duxbury on compassionate grounds, ensuring his last days are spent with his family, rather than prison guards.
"Most prisons are not equipped to deal with terminally ill prisoners, who are then sent to local hospitals with prison guards standing next to the dying prisoner.
"It does not serve any public interest by keeping men and women to die in prison.
"My work with victims of serious offences indicates that compassion and forgiveness are the greatest help towards alleviating the pain caused by the crime."
A Prison Service spokesperson said: "We do not discuss the cases of individual prisoners but the criteria for early release on medical grounds includes where the prisoner is suffering from a terminal illness and death is likely to occur within three months and further imprisonment would endanger the prisoner's life.
"We also need to ensure that the release of a prisoner meeting the criteria would not put the public at risk."