A man held in custody at Whanganui's Kaitoke prison has been denied the chance to say goodbye to his dying father.
"My brother has been a ratbag in the community — there's no denying that — but all we wanted was just 20 minutes for him to say goodbye to our dad," Michelle Taikato told the Chronicle.
"They were extremely close and this has all come as a massive shock to us."
Her 38-year-old brother, James Bretherton, is being held in remand while awaiting trial for two charges including aggravated robbery and is also facing a charge of escaping police custody.
On Tuesday morning, 61-year-old Michael Bretherton was on his way to the Whanganui District Court for his son James' court hearing when suddenly he could no longer speak.
Michael was rushed to hospital and the family had thought it was a stroke.
That evening, the family were told Michael had a rapidly progressive brain tumour and it would be just a matter of days until he would be dead.
The family contacted James' lawyer straight away and were told a verbal arrangement could be made with the prison for compassionate leave.
James would be escorted by two prison guards and the family would have to pay money for the guards and transport, which they were happy to do.
James' other sister, Taralee McNeil, said on Thursday they were told by a Kaitoke prison guard that it was 99 per cent confirmed James' leave would be approved. But that all changed yesterday morning.
"At about 7.45am [Friday] the prison called to say they were loading the van and James would arrive at Whanganui Hospital by 8.30am," Ms McNeil said.
"It got to just after 8.30am and he hadn't showed up, so I got in touch with the director of the prison and he told me it couldn't happen."
Whanganui prison director Reti Pearse told the Chronicle that Corrections was providing support to a prisoner "who had some sad family news this week".
"An application for the prisoner to be accompanied by staff to visit his family was declined due to the assessed risk that this would present to the safety of the community and Corrections staff," Mr Pearse said.
He said the safety of the public was his priority.
"Our staff will continue to offer support and encourage the prisoner to maintain contact with his family during this difficult time."
Ms Taikato said James suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after being shot in a drive-by shooting in Australia.
"The news about dad has really shaken him ... his mental health is not good and has been put in the at-risk unit. Him and dad were extremely close, I just can't believe it."
She said family had flown in from Australia and all around New Zealand to be at her father's bedside.
Yesterday afternoon, she said they didn't know if her father would last until the end of the day.
"We were trying to keep him alive for James, so dad's been in discomfort. We were desperate and tried every avenue to get James here. I don't understand why he couldn't have just 20 minutes."