The father of hit-and-run victim Dale Watson says he was shocked, and angry to learn the man who killed him could be granted leave from a secure mental health facility.
Terrence Watson received a letter from the Department of Justice's Victims Support Service asking for his feedback on proposed weekly leave for Joshua Barker, who killed his son during a psychotic episode at Prospect Vale in 2018.
During the 2019 trial into the case, a jury found the Kings Meadows man not guilty by reason of insanity.
The hit and run happened a street away from where Barker was bashed by four men with blunt objects in June 2009.
Barker was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the assault, having suffered delusions, paranoia, anxiety attacks, and intrusive thoughts.
He was ordered by the court to remain at the Wilfred Lopes Centre until he was deemed well enough to return to the community.
As part of his ongoing rehabilitation, he was now applying for the facility's leave program, which offered up to 52 escorted leave days per year.
"What I can't understand is he only got sentenced just over 12 months ago," Mr Watson said.
"To know he could just be walking around, it is just wrong, my son can't get out and just go for a walk. If you commit murder, and are found to be insane, you don't get to just go for walks.
"And if he is insane, the court found him insane, then he should not be allowed out in public. I'm going through all this s--t, and it is hard enough to move on with life without this.
"It just brings up all the memories."
The letter detailed a number of areas across Hobart where leave could be allowed.
But Barker's sister Gina Tatto said the process was not black and white, and her brother would not be able to roam free if he were granted leave.
Instead, she said it would be a gradual process, and he would be escorted by at least two staff members from the Forensic Mental Health Unit.
"He is ready and well, he has been through copious amounts of assessments and worked very hard with his doctors, and his treating team throughout his rehabilitation," she said.
"I know it is really hard for people who don't understand mental illness, to understand, but he was very, very sick three years ago and since then he has recovered and is his normal self.
"If I thought he was still unwell, I would not be in agreement with the leave program."
Mr Watson was given 10 days to respond to the letter with "feedback".
A close family friend had since emailed the Justice Department on his behalf.
"I am appalled for anybody even trying to ask us, Dale's family, to even consider letting Joshua out on field trips just after 12 months of him being in there," she wrote.
"My boy Dale can't go shopping with me, he can't come to Christmas lunch with me, he can't laugh with me, he can't sing with me anymore, he can't do anything with me anymore. Dale got a life sentence."
When contacted about the leave application, the Mental Health Tribunal said it could not comment on individual cases.
"A forensic patient who is subject to a restriction order may apply to the Mental Health Tribunal for leave of absence," a spokesman said.
"Eligible persons have a right to make written submissions within 10 days of receiving notification about the application and to provide them to the Tribunal who will consider all submissions before making any orders."
A Justice Department spokesman said if leave was approved, the Victims Support Service would inform registered victims, and counselling, and support was available through the Victims of Crime Service.
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