A sex offender who assaulted a teenage girl has failed in a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) appeal over the length of his prison sentence.
Gareth Taylor, formerly of Empress Street, Accrington, was jailed aged 21 in May 2007 at Burnley Crown Court having been convicted of sexual activity with a child and breach of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order. Taylor received an ‘indeterminate’ sentence for public protection and a minimum ‘tariff’ of 18 months was fixed.
Taylor, currently detained in open prison at HMP Leyhill, has now been in custody for nearly eight years. Parole Board reviews up to 2013 recommended he should remain in detention until completion of a Sex Offender Treatment Programme (SOTP). The Parole rulings were backed up by the Home Office.
An appeal by Taylor’s lawyers over the government’s decision was lodged to the European court, citing ‘delays’ in receiving the treatment programme and claiming that his detention ‘bore no relation’ to the judge’s sentencing tariff.
The court heard that while serving at HMP Albany between December 2007 and April 2008, Taylor incurred seven ‘adjudications’ for not complying with orders and one for destroying property.
Following his transfer to HMP Bure in November 2010, Taylor was refused release or transfer to open prison and a review period of 18 months was set in March 2011.
In July 2011 he was transferred from HMP Bure to HMP Wymott at his own request to be closer to his father, who was unwell. The Parole Board again refused his release, confirming he would need to complete the SOTP beforehand.
he next available course to be delivered at HMP Wynott was August 2012. Taylor completed the adapted SOTP Becoming New Me programme in February 2013. His European Court appeal argued there was ‘no excuse’ in the authorities’ delays for allowing him access to the SOTP. But the government said Taylor had chosen to remain at HMP Wymott on ‘compassionate grounds’ knowing that he would have to wait a year for the treatment programme if he remained at the prison.
Court president Nona Tsotsoria dismissed the appeal and said there was ‘no unreasonable delay’ and a ‘real opportunity for rehabilitation was provided’.