A woman who says she is the wife of double murderer Jason Reihana has spoken out in his defence after he was treated for a debilitating illness in Waikato Hospital.
Helen Reihana, who contacted the Herald yesterday in response to complaints from another hospital patient, said the convicted killer was "the most beautiful person you would ever come across".
She also denied claims that Reihana had had a "million dollar" bone marrow transplant, saying he had attended weekly hospital appointments and clocked up more than 400 blood transfusions during his time in prison.
"Only God can judge him. He's human like everybody else."
Reihana was jailed for at least 21 years - one of the country's longest minimum-term life sentences - for killing Teresa Gunn and her partner Andrew Grabner in a frenzied knife attack in her Tauranga home in 2005.
It emerged this week he had received treatment in Waikato Hospital recently, where he recuperated alongside other patients.
"He gets blood transfusions because he hasn't had a million dollar transplant," Helen Reihana told said yesterday.
"You might as well just call him dead man walking."
Although Reihana tried to maintain as normal a life as possible behind bars, helping out in the kitchen and completing courses, he got tired quickly due to the Myelofibrosis leukaemia he was diagnosed with not long after being jailed.
She said it wasn't Reihana's choice which room he was put in when receiving care.
"He's never unattended when he's going to the bathroom nor has he had a bone marrow transplant so it happens to cost the New Zealand taxpayer even more due to hospital visits, treatment and check-ups etc. He doesn't choose what room he goes into or if he's in there alone or with people."
She believed Reihana should have had the transplant 10 years ago.
"What a sad country we live in because certain people receive better treatment than others. We are all citizens of New Zealand and the human race and Jason doesn't choose where he goes."
When asked what she said to people about the fact Reihana had killed two people, she replied it was "irrelevant".
"We weren't there that night. Only he knows the truth and God."
"He is just the most beautiful person you would ever come across, a very sensitive soul.
"He has a big heart and he is awesome with his children."
Reihana said she got calls from her husband two to three times a day but could only visit him weekly.
She said he had been sicker than usual since Christmas and hoped the releasing of fraudster Vicki Letele on compassionate grounds from prison last year would open the door to the release of other sick prisoners.
"The only thing that keeps him alive is the 10 injections a week and over 400 blood transfusions."
Reihana said she has never felt threatened and wouldn't say how long the pair had been married, just confirming it had been "years".
Corrections said it couldn't confirm if Reihana's wedding took place behind bars, citing privacy laws.
But a spokesman said prison weddings were "relatively rare".
Meanwhile, the father of one of Reihana's two victims is stunned at an allegation the double-murderer was left unattended at least three times while in hospital.
"I wasn't happy about it - especially him taking up a hospital bed when there is a long waiting list for beds by law abiding citizens," Gunn's father David Gunn told the Bay of Plenty Times.
"But that's the justice system for you. It seems prisoners take priority over others having to wait a huge amount of time for hospital treatment."
He declined to comment further for legal reasons.