Career crim Arthur Taylor confident of parole

ARTHUR TAYLOR: A self-described 'prison lawyer' who won several cases over Corrections.
ARTHUR TAYLOR: A self-described 'prison lawyer' who won several cases over Corrections.

One of the country's most notorious career criminals believes he could be released from jail within a year after an "encouraging" Parole Board hearing.

Arthur William Taylor, who is held in the maximum security wing of Auckland Prison at Paremoremo, has been denied parole but said he was motivated to attend a rehabilitation programme regarded as "essential" for his release.

Taylor is serving lengthy sentences for a variety of crimes, including conspiring to deal in methamphetamine from prison, possession of morphine for supply, receiving, kidnapping, escaping from custody, possession for supply of cannabis and cannabis oil, and six firearms offences.

He has more than 150 convictions and is notorious for escaping from prison in both 2005 and 1998 - when he and his co-offenders, including double murderer Graeme Burton, were found hiding in a luxury bach on the Coromandel amid copious amounts of red wine.

He was once described by Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Bush as a "criminal with no social or moral conscience who is an absolute burden on the country".

During his most recent incarceration, Taylor has become a self-described "prison lawyer" and has won several cases against the Department of Corrections, including an appeal over the prisons' smoking ban.

Taylor's sentence ends in 2022, but he was eligible for parole last year. He appeared before the board last week.

In its decision released today the board said Taylor's behaviour had improved since last year, despite two incidences of misconduct.

His security classification had been reduced from maximum to high, which it said was "encouraging".

However, it said Taylor clearly posed an undue risk to the safety of the community and needed to attend the Special Treatment Unit Rehabilitation Programme (STURP) programme before release.

To do so, his security classification needed to be reduce one step further, but that was achievable, the board said.

"There is the possibility that if he becomes eligible he might attend a STURP programme to commence in June 2014. That is a realistic pathway forward," the decision read.

In a message from prison, Taylor called the lowering of his security classification a "breakthrough".

He said he was hoping to do the STURP course soon, probably at Springhill Prison in the Waikato or at Rimutaka in Wellington. He believed it was possible he could be released on parole within a year.

Taylor said he was "looking forward , in the foreseeable future, to being able to do the normal things like talking to friends and family - and reporters".