Brian Paul TAYLOR 5/12/2021
Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002
Brian Paul TAYLOR
Hearing: 5 December 2021
at Whanganui Prison by video conference
Members of the Board: Mr N Trendle – Panel Convenor
Dr G Coyle
Counsel: Ms A Brosnahan
In Attendance: (withheld) - Case Manager
Support Persons: (withheld)
This decision has been issued following consideration of parole in accordance with the provisions of The Epidemic Preparedness (Epidemic Management - COVID-19 - Parole Act 2002 and Sentencing Act 2002) Notice 2020 which activates section 13A of the Parole Act 2002. There has been a hearing conducted by Panel Convenor and one Board member. All of the usual material provided for this hearing has been considered, and there has been a Teams video conference discussion involving the panel, the offender, Case Manager, and counsel.
DECISION OF THE BOARD
- Brian Paul Taylor is serving a total sentence of 20 years and one month’s imprisonment for a variety of violent and drug-related offences. He was initially sentenced in 2003 to two years three months imprisonment for receiving and serious driving offences. In 2004 a cumulative term of two years nine months was imposed for wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm following an assault on another prisoner. That was followed by cumulative sentences of five years and six years imprisonment (reduced on appeal from a total of 14 years) for wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, aggravated robbery, participating in a criminal organisation and other offending. Finally, in 2017 he received a further cumulative term of four years one month’s imprisonment for dealing in methamphetamine. That offending occurred in November 2016 while he was serving his sentence. As a result his statutory release date is 2 June 2023.
- Mr Taylor has a recently recalculated RoC*RoI of .87948 and has been assessed by a psychologist as falling in a group of offenders who pose a very high risk of general offending and a high risk of violent reoffending.
- Mr Taylor completed the Special Treatment Unit Rehabilitation Programme in 2011 and has subsequently engaged in periods of individual psychological treatment. That continued through this year when he completed 24 sessions of work with the treating psychologist. When he was last before the Board, the approach of his statutory release date was referred to and support given to Mr Taylor making progress on reintegration activities. It was noted that his status as a segregated prisoner was posing an impediment to that progress.
- Since then there has been a material change in Mr Taylor's approach to his sentence. That has been reflected in his security classification which has been reduced to low and the opportunities he has had to commence reintegration activities. He has had several meetings with key support people. He has had five escorted leaves to the community. He received very positive reports from both his PCO who has known him for 14 years and his Case Manager.
- Ms Brosnahan appeared as counsel and made written and oral submissions in support of Mr Taylor's release on parole. In her written submissions she referred to the “significant shift" in Mr Taylor's conduct and compliance. She noted his ongoing work with the departmental psychologist and his successful participation in escorted leaves. One of leaves she referred to included a meeting with (withheld) with whom he will be maintaining contact when he returns to the community.
- Upon release Mr Taylor is proposing to live with (withheld) Palmerston North. The proposal has been assessed by Community Corrections as suitable. She along with (withheld) from (withheld) attended the hearing in Mr Taylor's support. It is clear that since his last appearance before the Board he has made solid progress in developing his release plan.
- Since his last appearance Mr Taylor has revised his safety plan, a copy of which he forwarded to the Board. In the past he had difficulties retaining the key elements of the plan, but he has now converted it to a poem that makes it easier for him to remember.
- Mr Taylor is in his 19th year of imprisonment. The change that has become evident is very recent. Indeed, his last serious offending (dealing in controlled drugs) was committed from prison just five years ago. He was initially reticent in explaining why the change occurred in light of his counsel's submission that until recently he had been “butting heads" with Corrections staff and others throughout his sentence. His PCO identified the passing of (withheld), and more recently (withheld), as likely catalysts for the change that has been observed over the last 12 months or so.
- Mr Taylor freely admits the obvious problems with his conduct and compliance evident for most of his sentence. He told us that he had now focused on family. He said that he left the gang in 2008 and is now in a position of not having to prove himself to anyone.
- A psychological assessment completed in September refers to the progress he has made in treatment. He is reported as showing increased ownership regarding his anti-social attitudes and beliefs around his offending and offence paralleling behaviour and an ongoing stability in his prison behaviour. The assessment is in stark contrast to previous reports including the report just twelve months earlier. The context for this progress, reflected in all the psychological reports, is his very limited experience of living in a pro- social environment and lacking the requisite skills to do so. He was said to use aggression to protect his vulnerabilities and his previous poor prison behaviour drew from a range of cognitive distortions to absolve him of any sense of personal responsibility.
- For a combination of reasons, it appears Mr Taylor has committed himself to change. In light of the time spent on this sentence which, for the most part has been characterised by poor behaviour and cognitive distortion; the change is very recent and has yet to be tested to a point where the Board can be satisfied that he is equipped to safely return to the community. We note that as a low security prisoner his releases to date have been escorted and his eligibility for progressive reintegration activities has been somewhat constrained. His PCO indicated that at minimum security, issues such as guided release and other activities are managed differently. There seems to be a real possibility that he will achieve minimum security in the reasonably near future. That should provide the opportunity for him to demonstrate in a less secure environment that he can sustain the change that has recently emerged and that he is able to complete the transition to a pro- social environment.
- Parole today is declined. The Board supports Mr Taylor continuing on the reintegration pathway that has gathered momentum since his last appearance before the Board. We support those activities progressing to the extent possible. His very long term of imprisonment requires both a gradual process of reintegration and testing and consolidating the skills and experience gained through treatment that are necessary for a safe return to the community. While we cannot predict that point will be reached before the end of his sentence, we will nevertheless schedule him to return to the Board in six months, by 30 May 2022.
Mr N Trendle