Career criminal's drug ring jail time cut

STEVE HOPKINS
Last updated 15:15 27/07/2012
Arthur Taylor
APPEAL GRANTED: Arthur Taylor.

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Career criminal Arthur Taylor has had his prison term for being involved in a jailhouse drug ring reduced by two years after successfully arguing to the Court of Appeal.

Taylor was jailed for seven years in May last year with a minimum non-parole period of three and a half years for being part of a methamphetamine ring inside Auckland maximum security prison Paremoremo.

The 55-year-old was convicted on one charge of conspiring to supply P but acquitted on three additional charges of offering to sell the class A drug following a trial in the High Court at Auckland in February.

Following sentencing Taylor, who was already in jail serving a 12-year sentence which would have kept him locked up until 2017, issued a press release from behind bars calling his sentence ''savage'' and announcing he would appeal.

According to a recent Court of Appeal decision, Taylor appealed his conviction - on the grounds the jury's verdict was unreasonable or that there was a miscarriage of justice - and his sentence on the basis it was excessive and a minimum term of imprisonment shouldn't have been imposed.

The decision noted that before the appeal was heard, and again once it got underway, Taylor had complained prison authorities had ''deprived him of adequate facilities'' to properly prepare his case. Previously, Taylor had daily access to office space and a computer and at one time claimed to have an office assistant.

However, the appeal judges said Taylor, representing himself, was able to ''advance and develop his grounds fully and articulately in argument before us''.

Taylor argued he shouldn't have been found guilty of conspiring to supply P because one of the two people he was accused of conspiring with was acquitted at trial.

The appeals judges dismissed this as a conspiracy, by law, was an agreement between two or more people.

Taylor also submitted the verdict was unjust as it was inconsistent with the not guilty verdicts reached on his other charges.

The appeals judges dismissed this saying the charges were assessed differently.

Taylor suggested there was a miscarriage of justice because of trial delays.

He had sought a stay of proceeding before trial arguing the evidence against him was inadmissible because police had waited 15 months to charge him after collecting their evidence. That application was dismissed.

He also argued the case should have been thrown out because the Truth Weekender newspaper ran a story labelling him a ''high profile career criminal'' shortly before his case was heard.

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The appeals court found the judge had warned the jury to dismiss anything they had read in the media and to make their own assessments.

In respect of sentence, the appeals judges said the sentencing bands for ''discrete'' methamphetamine dealing, was three to nine years.

Had Taylor been sentenced on supplying the amount of P involved with the charge he faced - three ounces, about $35,000 worth - a starting point would have been four and a half to five years.

That starting point was reduced to four years to recognise the charge.

The sentencing judge then increased that by two years to recognise Taylor had committed the offence while in prison.

''In the judge's view, his offending mocked the deterrent sentences already imposed, negatively impacted on community perceptions of custodial sentences, indicated a total disregard for the original sentences and indicated a high risk of reoffending,'' the appeals decision said.

A further year was added on account of Taylor's ''appalling criminal record''. He has more than 130 convictions.   

Taylor said the effect of the sentence being added cumulatively to his 12-year sentence ''breached the totality principal''. It meant he would be locked up until 2022.

The appeals court dismissed that argument, but felt the sentence was excessive for a different reason. They said the starting point of four years was too high, because despite Taylor playing a significant role in the crime he was convicted on the evidence of a limited number of phone calls and text messages.

They said the uplift added to Taylor's sentence of three years equalled 75 per cent of the starting point and was excessive - 40 per cent, or 18 months, was appropriate.

The appeals court dismissed Taylor's appeal against conviction but reduced his sentence from seven years to five and a half years and reduced his minimum term of non-parole by nine months.

- Auckland Now

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