Hayden Joseph TAYLOR - 19/02/2018

Hearing for Postponement Order

27(4)(b) of the Parole Act 2002

Hayden Joseph TAYLOR

Date of Hearing: 19 February 2018

at Auckland South Corrections Facility via AVL from New Zealand Parole Board, Head Office, Wellington

Date of Decision: 20 February 2018

Members of the Board:

  • Ms K Snook (Panel Convenor)
  • Assoc Prof. P Brinded
  • Mr B McMurray

Counsel: Mr N Chisnall

In Attendance: [withheld]

Support Persons:

  • [withheld]
  • [withheld]


  1. Mr Taylor appeared before the Board today for the sole consideration of the question of whether the Board would make a postponement order under section 27 of the Parole Act 2002.
  2. Mr Taylor is serving a life sentence for the murder of Ms Rankin which occurred on 20 September 1996. Mr Taylor was on bail for the rape and kidnapping of another woman on 30 April 1996. He is serving a sentence of preventive detention for those earlier crimes for which he was sentenced on 6 December 1997.
  3. On 7 November 2017 the Board considered the question of parole for Mr Taylor.  That Board remained concerned about Mr Taylor’s continued denial of any sexual element to his murder of Ms Rankin. It found he remained an undue risk to community safety and denied parole.
  4. The Board is considering postponement of Mr Taylor’s next parole hearing beyond the maximum two year period from when he was last considered for parole (namely 7 November 2017) which is normally available to the Board.
  5. The sole test in making a postponement order is the Board must be satisfied that, in the absence of a significant change in the offender’s circumstances, the offender will not be suitable for release for the duration of the postponement order.
  6. Mr Chisnall appeared today for Mr Taylor. We also had written submissions filed by Mr Chisnall in advance of the hearing which also attached the submissions which had been before the Board which considered parole in November 2017.  The Board had read both sets of submissions before the hearing began.
  7. Mr Chisnall spoke to those submissions today. The main point that Mr Chisnall emphasised to the Board is that Mr Taylor has already completed a significant period of reintegration earlier in his sentence. That is acknowledged. Mr Chisnall submitted that over the past few years Mr Taylor has not been reoffered reintegration activities by the Department due to changes in Departmental policy and it looks unlikely that he will be offered activities such as release to work in the near future.
  8. Mr Chisnall submitted that if the Board made a postponement order the likelihood that Mr Taylor will be offered any reintegration activities will be even slimmer.
  9. Although Mr Chisnall’s submissions referred to a Release to Work application being considered on 21 February 2018, we were told at the hearing today that in fact the panel had decided at the end of last week that Mr Taylor would not be approved for Release to Work at this time.
  10. The PCO told the Board that there were several reasons for this. This includes the incident referred to in the decision of the last Board where Mr Taylor was withdrawn from the prison computer room because of inappropriate use of the computers.
  11. In addition when Mr Taylor was on release to work at Spring Hill he was said to have engaged in rule breaking behaviour.
  12. After the hearing we were sent the written decision of the Release to Work panel dated 15 February 2018 which detailed the above information for Mr Taylor.
  13. We note one conclusion in that decision which states that the above incidents referred to provide evidence that although Mr Taylor is able to describe change and highlight learning from the criminogenic programmes he has completed in a “rote fashion” he is: “…considered to be unable to consistently translate your learning into behaviour, especially when placed in a trusted position and in a less structured environment.”
  1. The decision also refers to Mr Taylor’s minimisation and justification of the behaviour with the computers which led to his regression.
  2. However the decision does go on to say that the panel considered that a longer period of internal employment followed by supervised and unsupervised external employment, prior to release to work, as being the appropriate pathway for Mr Taylor.
  3. The decision also said that Mr Taylor’s reintegration into the community where ultimately release to work will play a part will take a “significant period of time - possibly years rather than months”.
  4. The other key relevant consideration is the previous concern of numerous Boards about Mr Taylor’s denial of any sexual motivation for the murder offence and its impact on our view of his treatment.  During our discussion with Mr Taylor today there was no alteration in his stance on this point. Mr Taylor had various explanations for the apparent sexual overtones to the evidence found at the scene of the murder.  These were described by the Board in its decision denying parole in November 2017 and were discussed with Mr Taylor today.
  5. Mr Taylor continues to maintain that the reason he took Ms Rankin in his car was that he wanted to find out from her what she knew about the offending that he was on bail for. He was concerned that it would affect his position with the St John Ambulance.
  6. However we, as was the last Board, remain deeply troubled by the evidence of sexual offending accompanying Mr Taylor’s murder of Ms Rankin.   His explanations to us today for the various elements of that crime scene were often illogical and/or implausible. Mr Chisnall said in his submissions that the Board has previously appeared to be taking the view that sexual deviancy must be assumed unless and until Mr Taylor admits the sexual element found to exist by the sentencing Judge.
  7. However a key thing for this Board is not that the sexual element must be assumed until Mr Taylor admits it, but that so far despite 22 years in prison and the completion of intensive programmes directed at him examining why he offended, Mr Taylor still has no other plausible explanation about the evidence found at the crime scene.
  8. Mr Taylor told the Board that he has completed his most recent psychological treatment.  That consisted of eight sessions.  He referred to a psychological treatment report dated 15 January 2018 which we had not seen.
  9. Mr Chisnall referred us to paragraph 14 of that treatment report and to the recommendations contained in the report. As we had not seen the report prior to the hearing we reserved our decision to enable us to consider that report along with all of the other material before the Board before making a decision on the question of postponement.
  10. We have now read that treatment report.  It assesses Mr Taylor as being at medium-low risk of sexual reoffending and states that Mr Taylor has completed the treatment required of him.  At this time there are no further recommendations for further treatment on the basis that “Mr Taylor has no outstanding treatment needs (using the VRS and VRS-SO tools), has demonstrated retention of previous learning, and continues to deny the sexual component to his murder offending.”
  11. The recommendation of the psychologist is that Mr Taylor be given the opportunity to engage in Release to Work as part of his reintegration if found suitable by the Release to Work panel.
  12. The Board is concerned by the psychologist’s assertion paragraph 14 of the treatment report that the denial (of sexual motivation for the murder) was not considered to be linked to any increase in risk for sexual offending. Given that the denial will have influenced the content of what was addressed (or not) in treatment, we consider the clinical risk is greater than what is stated in the psychological treatment report.
  13. Taking all of the above into account we are satisfied (as required by section 27) that, in the absence of a significant change in Mr Taylor’s circumstances, Mr Taylor will not be suitable for release for at least 3 years.
  14. That decision takes account of our view that although Mr Taylor is assessed to have completed treatment in relation to the offending that treatment has not dealt with the elements of the murder offence which appear to have a sexual element and for which Mr Taylor has provided no other plausible explanation.  In addition it is clear that the reintegration that is recommended by the psychologist via Release to Work will not occur for some time for the reasons set out in the decision of the Release to Work panel.
  15. Mr Taylor will be scheduled to be seen again by the Board in the week commencing 2 November 2020. We support him being offered reintegration activities in a graduated fashion in accordance with prison policy.
  16. We ask for an updated assessment of Mr Taylor’s risk for the next Board.  That assessment should take account of the treatment Mr Taylor has completed during his sentence, including the most recent treatment, the issues raised in the decision of the Release to Work panel (which in places appears to conflict with the more positive focus of the treatment report dated 15 January 2018), and Mr Taylor’s progress on reintegration.

Ms K Snook
Panel Convenor