I believe it's only when you become a parent that you understand true fear.

From the time you first hold that tiny scrap in your arms, your only thought is keeping your child safe. Every fall, every scratch hurts you far more than it does your child.

I held my breath throughout my daughter's adolescence, desperate for her to negotiate through her teenage years without falling into the thrall of drugs or under the spell of a man who would mistreat her.

It is a little easier once they become young adults but I think I only relaxed when my daughter married a man who loves her as much as her parents do. I am still a big part of her life and her happiness is important to me, but I no longer feel responsible for her.


I can't imagine what it must be like to be given a terminal prognosis when you have young children. The knowledge you will die without seeing your children into adulthood must be the cruellest fate any parent could suffer.

Which is why I support Vicki Letele being released from prison. Letele has served eight months of a three-year, two-month sentence for fraud. She and an associate arranged mortgages for low-income families who would not otherwise have been able to get finance, using false documentation.

The finance was then used to buy properties from interests related to Letele and her associate, that ultimately generated them a profit of more than half a million dollars.

So a greedy crime. A cheap, underhand crime that played on the naivety and desperation of low-income families. A prison sentence was surely justified.

I know from talkback callers that fraud can have fatal consequences. Two widows, whose husbands had invested their retirement savings in finance companies, told me they believed their husbands died from the stress of losing their life savings.

So lock Letele up and throw away the key, and let's put a few more fraudsters in prison.

Except the karma bus has well and truly stopped outside Vicki Letele's cell.

The 35-year-old has been diagnosed with metastatic cancer and given just months to live. She would be up for parole in April next year, but her family say that may well be too late and they wanted her home so they can care for her and, more importantly, so she can spend her last months making memories with her three young children.

Initially, the Corrections Department told the family Letele's needs were being met in prison and denied the family's appeal for an early release.

After publicity of Letele's plight and a 12,000 signature petition being presented to Corrections, officials reviewed the case and granted early release under section 41 of the Parole Act.

There are those who believe that you do the crime, you do the time; that Letele should have thought of the consequences of her actions and the impact it would have on her young family before she ripped off vulnerable people.

But she is dying. She will not see her three young children grow up. That has to be a far worse punishment any court could give her.