Two Broome women left for dead after being savagely bashed are furious one of the robbers has been granted leave from prison to rebuild relationships with loved ones – 12 months before he was due to be considered for parole.
Grandmother Noelene Lee, 55, has had to learn to walk and talk again after she was beaten over the head and body several times with a large metal torch at her work two years ago.
She was manager of the former Broome Home Hardware store – now Bunnings – on the corner of Hunter and Blackman streets when she quizzed Clint Shane Cotterill, David Andrew Hall and Gary Simpson about entering the delivery area at closing time.
She was then struck down and bashed repeatedly over the head while on the ground.
Her injuries were so horrific neurosurgeons had to remove half of her skull to ease pressure from her swollen brain. The bone had to be replaced by a titanium plate.
Customer Lily Chin, 40, suffered three blows to the head when she was spotted by Cotterill. He continued to bash her after she fell to the floor.
Ms Chin blacked out but later managed to dial 000 as she lay bleeding in the loading dock.
Both women are still struggling to come to terms with the attack, which has caused them and their families deep psychological and emotional trauma.
The latest blow to the long and painful process of trying to rebuild their lives was a letter from the Victims Notification Registrar just before Christmas telling them Simpson’s application for reintegration leave had been approved.
Corrective Services confirmed this week his status has been downgraded for community reintegration.
Simpson is now at low-security Karnet Prison Farm. It is understood his privilege will start at 12 hours per month then increase to include weekend and overnight stays with family until he is considered for parole on December 28.
Simpson has served just two years of his five-year sentence.
“I felt sick when I read the letter,” Mrs Lee said.
“It was a real kick in the guts. Where is the punishment, where is the incentive not to commit crime, where is the reassurance to the victims.”
Mrs Lee has not been able to return to work since the attack and is still receiving medical treatment for her injuries.
Both women continue to undergo psychological counseling.
“My life has been turned upside down,” Mrs Lee said.
“Whenever I walk through a security scanner the alarm sounds because of the metal they have used to rebuild my skull. It is deeply embarrassing and makes me feel like a criminal.”
Ms Chin received three deep lacerations that pierced the bone and had to be stapled together.
She said the wounds have healed but the scars of her ordeal will remain forever.
“I can’t sleep at night without sleeping pills and I still suffer nightmares and other medical issues from the trauma of the attack,” she said.
“I am totally frustrated and angry with a justice system that is there to look after the perpetrators.
“There is nothing there to look after the victims and we certainly do not seem to have a voice in the matter.”
Ms Chin has been suffering severe post traumatic stress disorder since the assault and is still trying to overcome a chronic fatigue health condition she suffered before the attack.
Cotterill has appealed the length of his eight-year and six-month sentence for his part in the robbery to the Supreme Court in Perth and a decision is pending.
He is eligible for parole in June 2016.
Hall was jailed for five years and six months.
Corrective Services said reintegration allowed low-security prisoners the opportunity to re-establish relationships with their families and communities through programmed periods of leave.Tell us what you think. Email email@example.com or send us a letter.
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