Cork Prison inmate seeks early release due to incurable brain cancer

A prisoner and convicted drug dealer who claims he has incurable brain cancer is campaigning to be released early to have treatment at home.

Cork Prison

Jonathan Heaphy, who has 144 convictions for crimes including drugs offences, threatening behaviour, and theft, has written a letter from Cork Prison. He was sent there in May 2016 after receiving a seven-year sentence, with three suspended, for money-laundering offences.

In the letter, seen by the Irish Examiner, Heaphy said he has had four operations in the last eight years to remove brain tumours.

“In September this year, I got a partial amount of my tumour removed to then find out in late October that the other bit of the tumour that is left in my brain is fully cancerous,” he wrote.

“I am now at stage 3. The cancer that I have is incurable.

“Within the next two years, my cancer will move up to stage four leaving me with 18-24 months to live.”

Heaphy said he is being held in a prison cell “terminally ill with a serious weight loss impact, several seizures per day”.

He is due to start tablet chemotherapy on Monday.

“It’s not guaranteed that this is going to work out for me,” he said. “I need to get home to my family to get as much love and care that I can as it can be the end of the road for me at any stage. I don’t want my final days to be in a prison away from my wife, two young kids and family.”

He asked for people to support him and “try to understand the heartbreak that my family and I feel”.

Heaphy’s wife Jennifer told TV3 News: “We just want him home.

“We thought all along it was a benign tumour, but unfortunately its not. It’s stage three.”

His mother Helen said: “I know he’s a bad past, I’m not going to deny that. We just need to have him home. Prison is not the place for him with brain cancer.”

Asked whether he was liable to return to crime if released, Helen said: “He’s not going to come back to us, being as sick as what he is, and go back out dealing drugs... He has a past. So does everyone else.”

In his letter, Heaphy also said his criminal past is behind him.

“I have absolutely no intentions of going back to old ways or reoffending,” he wrote.

“I deserve a second chance in life. I have a past which I now leave behind and will not look back.”

The Heaphy family plan to protest at Cork Prison for his release, as well as the gates of Leinster House.


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