A CONVICTED burglar has died in hospital 13 days after being freed early from prison.
Father-of-three Brett Duxbury, 35, died in Accrington Victoria Hospital on Monday from lung cancer.
The former Rhyddings High pupil was due to be released from Lancaster Castle Jail in January 2010 after serving a five-year sentence for twice burgling the home of an 83-year-old woman and absconding from an open prison in Kirkham last year.
But the former roofer was set free on 10 November on compassionate grounds to spend his final days with his mum Alison Whewell, 54 — who had long campaigned for his release — his children and sisters, at Union Road in Oswaldtwistle.
His sister Lynsey Duxbury, 36, said Brett was sorry for what he had done and grateful for the nine days he spent at home with his family and three children, Jordan 17, and twins Abigail and Dominic, 15, prior to dying.
"He was definitely sorry for what he did," she said. "He thought the cancer that he got was punishment for all the wrong that he had done.
"If he could have taken it back he would have."
She added: "The only comfort we, as a family, are experiencing is the fact he is not in pain anymore."
Brett’s plight had been covered by the Observer since June, shortly after his mother started the campaign to free her terminally-ill son early.
A petition on the social networking site Facebook followed the campaign, urging the Justice Secretary Jack Straw to allow Brett home and the debate regarding his release went national with coverage on the BBC’s The One Show.
Paying tribute to her younger brother, Lynsey said: "Brett was fun-loving and always the joker.
"He was still laughing right up to the end and was really brave."
She added: "I don’t think it has actually sunk in with everyone yet. His children have taken it badly. We are all going to miss him lots."
Last week Brett was taken from his mum’s one-bedroom flat to Blackburn, then Accrington Victoria Hospital after his health deteriorated further.
He died in the company of his two sisters and close family.
At Brett’s funeral, a horse-drawn carriage will escort him to the service on Thursday (3 December) while a fishing rod — to signifying his favourite hobby — will be placed alongside him in his coffin.
A service at Accrington Crematorium will follow.
"We weren’t expecting to see him or get him home at all," added Lynsey. "Brett was a free man for two weeks before he died. We are all grateful for the time we got with him even though we didn’t get to spend Christmas together."
Brett’s mum Alison said: "My world has fallen apart and Brett has left a big void in my life that will never be filled, but at least he was a free man when he died."