Hayden Joseph TAYLOR - 20/11/2017
Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002
Hayden Joseph TAYLOR
Hearing: 7 November 2017
Date of decision: 20 November 2017
Members of the Board:
- Mr N Trendle (Panel Convenor)
- Ms S Pakura
- Dr J Skipworth
- [withheld] – Principal Psychologist
- [withheld] – Senior Psychologist
DECISION OF THE BOARD
- Hayden Joseph Taylor was sentenced in the Auckland High Court on 20 November 1996 to life imprisonment for the murder of Ms Nicola Rankin on 20 September 1996. Some 13 months later, he was sentenced to preventive detention on charges of kidnapping and raping a woman over the age of 16. That offending took place on 30 April 1996, some five months before the murder.
- Mr Taylor has a current security classification of minimum which he has retained for some seven years. He is presently in the internal self-care residences at [withheld]. During his sentence he has completed the Adult Sex Offender Treatment Programme, the Special Treatment Unit Rehabilitation Programme and he has had a number of psychological treatment sessions over several years. He is presently engaged in psychological treatment.
- When he last appeared for parole to be considered on 9 September 2016, the Board concluded that it was satisfied by a wide margin that Mr Taylor needed more and extensive reintegration activity whether in the form of individual counselling, but certainly in the form of release to work. It expressed the view that Mr Taylor must attempt to prove himself across a wide range of situations. That conclusion was reached after a discussion with Mr Taylor about the issue of sexual deviance which is strongly implied by the circumstances surrounding his murder of Ms Rankin. As he has on previous occasions before the Board, he denied that there was a sexual element linked with the murder, and in any event maintained, as he had previously, that any issues of sexual deviance had been adequately covered in the rehabilitation activities he had completed throughout his sentence. We will return to that issue later.
- Since the Board’s last decision, Mr Taylor was regressed from the internal self-care residence following an incident when he was found to have inappropriately used the computer system at the prison. After a period in [withheld], he was restored to the internal self-care residences where he remains. His treatment with the psychologist is regarded as ongoing.
- [withheld] appeared as counsel, and made written submissions in advance of the hearing which she orally supplemented. The written submission indicated that Mr Taylor sought release on parole. [withheld] acknowledged he had no approved address, but sought a short adjournment to enable an address to be identified and assessed by Community Corrections, and for Mr Taylor to complete his current psychological counselling and to undertake release to work.
- With regard to the Board’s last decision, requiring Mr Taylor to prove himself across a wide range of situations in the community, the submissions referred to the four and a half years he spent in external self-care and the 18 months he previously spent on release to work, both at [withheld]. Reference was made to a number of other situations where Mr Taylor had completed reintegration activities. Through no fault of his, some of those activities, including release to work, appeared to be no longer immediately available due to changes in Departmental policy.
- Counsel submitted that Mr Taylor’s risk had repeatedly been assessed by psychologists as moderate for general offending and medium/low for sexual re-offending. Counsel submitted that the Board’s apparent rejection of that assessment of risk should be revisited on the grounds that it was a consistent finding and the Board’s reference to a single expert’s assessment referred to in the sentencing notes of Justice Morris when sentencing Mr Taylor should be seen in its context that it was prepared when he was 20 years old. Moreover, the psychological assessments were prepared at the request of the Board and directly related to the issue of parole.
- [withheld] submitted that Justice Morris’s conclusion on this point which was reached in the context of Mr Taylor’s sentencing for the prior kidnapping and rape, was not determinative of the issue in that it was not reached on a full consideration of the evidence relating to the murder, to which Mr Taylor had pleaded guilty.
- In referring to Mr Taylor’s denial that there was a sexual element to his murder, the submissions noted that this had been an issue that appeared to have constituted a primary impediment to his release on parole. Counsel reiterated Mr Taylor’s denial that there was any sexual deviancy in relation to that crime. [withheld] submitted that the Board appeared to take the view that sexual deviancy must be assumed unless and until Mr Taylor admits the sexual element found to exist by Justice Morris.
- Counsel’s submissions referred to the consistency of Mr Taylor’s explanation of what occurred. Whilst the Board in its 2014 decision referred to Mr Taylor’s denial of any sexual deviancy in relation to the rape, Ms [withheld] emphasised that he had accepted sexual deviancy in relation to his first crime, the rape and kidnapping of his first victim.
- She urged us to put the factual issue with respect to the murder to one side, contending that the sexual deviancy element of that crime had successfully been addressed through extensive treatment over a number of years. Counsel referred to excerpts from various psychological opinions before the Board in support of her submission that Mr Taylor’s refusal to acknowledge a sexually motivated aspect to the murder was not necessarily predictive of his risk of re-offending, nor did it preclude his addressing other risk factors.
- In summary, Ms [withheld] referred to the efforts Mr Taylor had made over a lengthy period to prove himself reliable and responsible in a range of situations; that he had strong support; and that his risk, to the extent that it remained, was less than undue and could be managed on release conditions.
- The written submission concluded with a request that the Board should direct Community Corrections to assist Mr Taylor to compile a fully developed and approved release proposal and proactively assist him to identify a suitable address to which he could be released. Post-release, it was suggested he could be subject to a condition requiring him to attend a monitoring hearing.
Meeting with victims
- Prior to the hearing the Board heard from three of Mr Taylor’s victims; relations of his murder victim and from his rape victim, personally. They opposed his release on parole and were of the view that if released he would pose a danger to others and reoffend. Postponement was referred to by one victim.
- Written submissions had been received from two people living in [withheld]. They were shown to Mr Taylor in terms of section 13 of the Parole Act 2002.
- In response, Mr Taylor had no comment to make.
The computer incident
- In the course of questioning Mr Taylor, the Board made reference to an incident reported in the parole assessment report where he was withdrawn from the prison computer room because of inappropriate use of the computers. Mr Taylor explained that this arose when he developed code for a chat program on the computer. He described it in simple terms. He said it was not his intention to implement the program. He thought he was permitted to do what he did. In the light of events, he accepted that it was not the right decision.
- Although Mr Taylor was authorised to use a prison computer which had no internet access, the Board was particularly concerned with his attempt to develop a chat programme. Whilst Mr Taylor accepted his decision to do so was wrong, he minimised and attempted to justify his actions. He appeared to have very little insight into what could only be viewed as a singular lapse in his decision-making. That was reflected in his regression to [withheld].
Sexual deviance accompanying the murder
- A significant focus of the hearing related to the Board’s previously expressed concern with respect to the risk implications of Mr Taylor’s sexual deviancy, and adequacy of the treatment for this aspect of his offending. For the reasons outlined above, Ms [withheld] submitted the Board should accept that Mr Taylor’s risk in this regard had been adequately addressed.
- In the Board’s view, its assessment of Mr Taylor’s risk to the safety of the community must have regard to the nature and extent of his sexual deviance. If it was confined to the rape and kidnapping of his first victim, we would accept the submission made by counsel. If the Board were to conclude, as it has in the past, that sexual deviance accompanied the murder of his second victim, this would call into question the honesty and therefore the validity of his offending narrative for both sets of offending, which in turn has implications for the effectiveness of his treatment as well as his residual risk.
- After duly reflecting on the material available to us, we do not accept the submission advanced on Mr Taylor’s behalf.
- First, the Board is entitled to place weight on the conclusion reached by Justice Morris in sentencing Mr Taylor to preventive detention. Whilst that sentencing was not for the murder of Ms Rankin, his risk of sexually reoffending was directly in issue and the judge heard evidence from the police officers who attended the scene of the murder. The judge declared himself “completely satisfied” that the murder was sexually related.
- Secondly, though Ms [withheld] sought to discount the expert evidence of Dr Allnutt’s report at the sentencing of Mr Taylor on the basis that it was an opinion expressed when he was 20 years of age, and before the treatment completed whilst subject to this sentence, the forensic psychiatrist’s opinion was that Mr Taylor suffered from a paraphilic disorder and that his behaviour exhibited signs of telephone scattalogia and sexual sadism. With respect to the murder, reference was made by the sentencing judge to Dr Allnutt’s opinion which concluded, that although the evidence was limited, it was likely the murder was sexually motivated and was consistent with sexual sadism.
- Thirdly, the evidence at the scene outlined in the summary of facts tendered to the court on Mr Taylor’s guilty plea was consistent with a sexual assault occurring. The victim had been buried face up, legs apart, with her hands bound behind her back. Her underpants were missing. The front of her skirt was pulled up. The bottom of her skirt was found across the top of her abdomen so that her thighs were exposed. The back of her skirt, beneath her, remained down. Her sweatshirt and t-shirt had been pulled up around her neck. The victim’s arms had been tightly tied together by a rope. The front of her bra had been cut through with a knife. At the foot of a nearby tree, a length of rope was found that was the same as that used to bind his rape victim’s hands.
- Fourthly, when interviewed and asked whether he had sex with his murder victim, the summary of facts recorded Mr Taylor’s reply as “Can we come back to that later”. When the question was asked again, he replied, “No comment”. The summary of facts continued, “The Prisoner refused to elaborate on any sexual activity. He declined to explain how he had killed Miss Rankin.” There was no denial on his part at the point when it would have been expected.
- Fifthly, Mr Taylor’s position with respect to sexual activity with Ms Rankin has been inconsistent. In a psychological report of 15 October 1999, he is recorded as saying he could not remember what had actually occurred with respect to the murder. He said that he took responsibility for what happened as he was the only one there. He remembered picking the victim up from her work. The next he remembered was that they were in the forest, that he was standing over the victim’s body, and that she was dead. He could not remember why they went to the forest. A subsequent psychological report dated 9 January 2003 records that Mr Taylor continued to maintain that he could recall little of the offence circumstances. “When asked directly, Mr Taylor said he could not recall his clothed or physical state – for instance his level of sexual arousal, or signs that he had had sexual intercourse.” A later report referred to his defensiveness about acknowledging a pattern of deviance.
- For a number of years the Board has been deeply troubled by the evidence of sexual offending accompanying his murder of Ms Rankin and Mr Taylor’s later denial of it. It is, as the Board has remarked previously, directly relevant to our assessment of his risk. As in earlier Board decisions, we have reviewed the psychological reports available to us, particularly those of [withheld] prepared in 2013 and [withheld] in 2015. Whilst we accept Mr Taylor has addressed the level of sexual deviancy he has been prepared to admit during the course of his treatment (and we interpolate, he initially denied that factor with respect to his rape conviction), we do not accept the central submission made by Ms [withheld], that the rehabilitation effort to date has addressed the higher level of risk reflected in the Board’s assessment of his undue risk.
- As Ms [withheld] submitted, the conclusion that we have reached represents something of an impasse for Mr Taylor. In our view the issue of his risk of reoffending can only be mitigated by either intensive psychological treatment, should he seek to review his position, or through a very lengthy period of reintegration activity and risk management planning. The latter, in the Board’s view is likely to take many years.
- Parole today is declined. While we note Mr Taylor is continuing to work with the psychologist, there is no indication that it is on any different basis than his previous engagement. In view of the conclusion we have reached, Mr Taylor will be scheduled to return to the Board in February next year, by 20 February 2018, for the sole issue of postponement to be considered. He will have the opportunity to make written submissions on whether a postponement order should be made. At the hearing, he will have the opportunity either in person or through counsel to make oral submissions.
Mr N Trendle