November 2019: Now released and living in Burnley

March 2015

Sex offender who molested schoolgirl fails in legal bid to reduce lengthy rehabilitation

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A SEX offender who molested a schoolgirl more than eight years ago has failed in a legal bid to reduce his lengthy rehabilitation.

Gareth Taylor, then 21, was initially jailed for 18 months in May 2007 at Burnley Crown Court after he admitted to sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl, who had cried for him to stop during the attack.

He was already under a sexual offences prevention order, imposed for previous misconduct, and Judge Christopher Cornwall jailed him indefinitely for public protection, with a minimum term of 18 months recommended.

Taylor, of Empress Street, Accrington, saw this stretch officially end in November 2008, but the Home Office, after a Parole Board recommendation, told him he should remain in detention.

Lawyers representing Taylor lodged a claim with the European Court of Human Rights concerning the alleged unavailability of an appropriate sex offenders treatment programme for their client, which may have accelerated his release.

The court heard that while at HMP Preston he had been the subject of several “adjudications”, punishing him seven times for failing to comply with prison rules and once for destroying property.

Taylor eventually ended up in HMP Bure, and again failed to convince the authorities that he should be released in a March 2011 ruling, following another Parole Board hearing.

In July that year Taylor successfully applied to be transferred to HMP Wymott, in Lancashire, on compassionate grounds, as his father was unwell.

His legal team indicated, the following November, that they were contemplating judicial review proceedings over the continuing failure to place him on a sex offenders treatment programme, the court was told.

But governors at Wymott told Taylor that as he had not elected to return to Bure, this was a factor in the delay and he would be offered a place on a suitable course, starting in August or September 2012.

Before then a third Parole Board hearing, which was told he still posed a risk, recommended he remain in custody, the court heard. He completed the sex offenders programme in February 2013.

The case for Taylor was that his sentence now bore little relation to his original punishment and the Prison Service had failed to provide an appropriate course to promote his release.

Government lawyers stressed that Taylor had elected to remain at Wymott, knowing there would be a potential delay in accessing a course, and any subsequent detention was not “arbitrary”.

Ruling against Taylor, court president Nona Tsotsoria said: “The delay of around one year from July 2011 to August 2012 was in order to accommodate his wishes and occurred with his agreement.

“In these circumstances tThe court is satisfied that a real opportunity for rehabilitation was provided to the applicant and that there was no unreasonable delay in providing him access to courses.”

The court heard that a fourth Parole Board hearing, staged in February 2014, had also not recommended his release but allowed his transfer to an open prison.