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New approach to compassionate release after rapist dies in jail

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The case of a Dunedin rapist who died behind bars has prompted a change in protocol for terminally sick prisoners looking for compassionate release.

Murray Oscar Kannewischer (89) was jailed for eight years in 2017 for 20 years of sexual offending in opposition to six women, some as younger as 8, which began in 1963.

He was declined parole in July final yr after refusing to settle for his guilt and was due to see the board once more this month.

However, he died in hospital in May “following a period of illness”, Corrections confirmed.

Documents confirmed Kannewischer made an software for compassionate release on well being grounds lower than a month earlier than his dying however was resoundingly knocked again by Parole Board chair Sir Ron Young.

“My function is to decide if there is evidence that could establish that Mr Kannewischer suffers from a serious illness from which he is unlikely to recover. The application . . . contains no medical information from a registered medical practitioner who is treating Mr Kannewischer as to what illnesses he suffers from, whether it is serious or not, nor whether Mr Kannewischer is likely or unlikely to recover from his illness,” he mentioned.

Otago Corrections Facility director Lyndal Miles mentioned the rapist had hung out in hospital from February and workers had assisted him with the appliance for release.

They utilized for lodging “through multiple providers” however had been unable to verify an tackle.

Kannewischer’s case had been the catalyst for a brand new approach to compassionate release functions, mentioned Miles.

“Corrections now ensures that all applications include a confirmed release address, and a clear summary of the prisoner’s diagnosis and prognosis, signed and dated by a medical doctor, on a single page,” she mentioned.

Because of Kannewischer’s unwillingness to settle for accountability for his crimes, he was thought-about unsuitable for rehabilitation programs or psychological counselling whereas incarcerated.

Victims, earlier than his 2020 parole listening to, had been vehemently opposed to the person’s release.

Despite his age and the very fact a psychological report classed Kannewischer as low danger, they apprehensive he was nonetheless a authentic menace to younger women.

At sentencing, earlier than the Dunedin District Court, Judge Michael Crosbie mentioned Kannewischer systematically focused his victims.

‘‘You preyed on these defenceless young women when they were all at about the same stage of physical and emotional development,’’ he mentioned.

‘‘Make no mistake, this is very grave offending.’’

Kannewischer’s dying was referred to the coroner. 

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