Arthur Taylor released from prison

Arthur Taylor is likely to get a lot of media coverage today.

A couple of weeks ago: Soon-to-be-released jailhouse lawyer labelled as a ‘legal genuis’

Taylor has been in prison nearly 40 years – and will be released on parole in February.

The career criminal has an extensive history of offending back to 1972, when he appeared in the Youth Court on a forgery charge.

He is serving a 17-year cumulative sentence in the high-security A Block at Paremoremo, which was set to end in 2022.

Hazel Heal a recently graduated law student, learnt about Taylor and started corresponding with him in prison about Hepatitis C in prison, as she’s an advocate on the issue.

Her respect for his legal achievements and legal genius, meant she kept corresponding with Taylor, and speaking to him on the phone.

“I do see him as a legal genius, a most remarkable lawyer who’s never been to a single lecture, or had any lessons, and works out of law in the most incredibly difficult conditions, with hardly any computer access.”

It would be a waste of his legal skills if he did not continue with his legal work outside of jail, and he had a few cases coming up this year, Ms Heal said.

He has plenty of time to study law. Good if he can use what he has learned for good purposes.

Taylor has already featured in a number of court cases, including on prisoner voting rights. Here are some decisions:

And it looks like more to come today:



“Shocking treatment’ of prisoner

Newsroom: Prison transfer sparks human rights row

Video footage shows notorious prison ‘bush lawyer’ Arthur Taylor being forcibly taken while unconscious from Auckland to Waikeria Prison – but maltreatment is strongly denied by Corrections.

Arthur Taylor, his lawyer Sue Earl, Otago University former Dean of Law Mark Henaghan, and advocate Hazel Heal want Corrections to release the footage to the public.

Henaghan and Heal also plan to send information to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. They claim the long-time prisoner and public law litigant was subjected to torturous treatment during the transfer.

Having late last month seen the camera footage of an incident where Taylor was transferred from in December last year, Henaghan and Heal say Taylor’s fundamental human rights were breached.

Heal told Newsroom…

…the footage shows Taylor being approached by up to five Corrections security staff at Auckland Prison. He refused to cooperate, in a calm manner, but was forced to the floor and handcuffed. Taylor mumbled for a minute or so, before appearing to become unconscious.

Heal says staff “basically dragged him out of the office, face down, hands cuffed behind his back, with one person at his head, each arm and leg, and someone holding the seat of the remainder of his pants. He’s a big guy so his belly was arched toward the floor”.

“It was all really disturbing. His face was grey, his hands were flaccid in the double handcuffs. He had these twitching muscles and his tongue was darting in and out, twisting and curved. His hands were also grey and puffy.”

Up to 20 officers were seen moving Taylor in the footage, and more than one officer was heard asking whether Taylor was still breathing, Heal says.

Henaghan said he was horrified by the footage…

“It’s hard to believe that so many breaches occurred in such a short period of time…[It’s as if security staff] were going to go through with it no matter what”.

“He was clearly unconscious and you can see him twitching. At this point they should have gotten a doctor straight away. He was strapped into various things and he was carried around like he was some sort of animal on the tray. It was really concerning.

“I know it’s not always popular to stand up for prisoners’ rights but it’s a true test of our framework. If human rights don’t apply to all, especially the most vulnerable in society, then there’s no point in them altogether.”

Henaghan and Heal’s account of the footage contrasts with what was recorded in Corrections medical reports, obtained by Newsroom via Taylor’s right to private information under the Official Information Act.

A Corrections spokesperson told Newsroom:

“On the day of the transfer Mr Taylor was non-compliant with the instructions of staff, and actively resisted being moved. In line with section 83 of the Corrections Act 2004 staff were required to physically move him to the escort vehicle due to his resistance.”

He was transferred in a dedicated prisoner escort vehicle and accompanied by custodial staff and a nurse, the department said.

Corrections, referred Taylor’s complaint relating to the transfer to the police, but maintains the transfer was lawful.

“Police advised Corrections, and Mr Taylor, that the lawfulness of the transfer was a matter for the Judiciary, and that any allegation of assault could not be determined until the issue of lawfulness of the transfer had been resolved, and therefore no further action would be taken.”

Sounds like this needs a proper investigation.

‘Witness C’ convicted for perjury, Tamihere still convicted

The murder case against David Tamihere in 1990 was controversial. The guilty verdict relied in part on testimony of secret witnesses (prison inmates claiming Tamihere confessed), but ‘Witness C’ has now been revealed as a double murderer who was last year convicted of lying in the Tamihere case.

RNZ: Identity of ‘Witness C’ in Tamihere case revealed

The identity of a secret prison informant who gave evidence at David Tamihere’s 1990 murder trial can now be revealed.

Roberto Conchie Harris – a convicted double murderer – was the secret jailhouse snitch at the trial of David Tamihere, 27 years ago.

His evidence at Tamihere’s 1990 trial included claims Tamihere had confided in him, disclosing how he had sexually abused Swedish tourists Heidi Paakkonen and Sven Hoglin before murdering them.

Harris shot Carol Pye, 28, and and her partner Trevor Crossley, 25, after an argument over marijuana in 1983.

Mrs Pye’s children found her body in the garden of their Titoki farmhouse in Northland when they arrived home from school. Mr Crossley’s body was about nine metres away. Both had been shot in the head.

As well as callously killing two people and leaving a dreadful discovery for their children Harris may have ruined tamihere’s life as well.

Tamihere was found guilty and was sentenced to life. He was paroled in 2010 and has always maintained his innocence.

While serving the sentence Harris told the police Tamihere had confided in him.

He later told Tamihere’s trial that Tamihere had told him he had met the Swedish backpackers at a camping area before sexually assaulting both of them and dumping their bodies at sea.

Five years later he flip-flopped on his evidence.

While inside prison, Harris swore an affidavit claiming the police had offered him $100,000 for his evidence against Tamihere.

He claimed the police would also support him at his upcoming parole hearing.

The affidavit – sworn in front of a lawyer working for Tamihere’s brother, former MP John Tamihere – was kept secret for a year before being released to the media.

But a year later, Harris changed his evidence again.

In 1996 he retracted the entire affidavit, claiming he had been threatened in prison by gang members.

In 2006 Harris was paroled for the second time. His first taste of freedom in 1992 ended when he was recalled to prison after being arrested for assault and demanding money.

His second release was even briefer.

On the day he was let out of prison, he sexually assaulted a 14-year-old, the granddaughter of the woman he was meant to be moving in with.

Harris’s conviction for perjury was as a result of a private prosecution. Last year: Convicted murderer David Tamihere slams ‘ludicrous’ claims

The Weekend Herald reported that a jailhouse informant who claimed Tamihere confessed to murdering Heidi Paakkonen and Sven Urban Hoglin is being sued for perjury.

The private prosecution is being brought by self-styled jailhouse “lawyer” Arthur Taylor, who claims that the informant made direct admissions to him that he had lied at Tamihere’s trial.

Tamihere, who has served his time and now lives in West Auckland, told Fairfax he has a letter from a secret witness who admits lying at his trial.

He also rejected the snitch’s claims about what he is supposed to have done to the dead tourists.

“I dumped them at sea, according to him, stole a runabout from a camping ground and run him out to sea … weighted the body and dropped it over the side. I cleaned the boat up and put it back and then did it again with the female.

Ms Paakkonen’s body has never been found but the discovery of Mr Hoglin’s remains near Whangamata conflicted with testimony by the prison informant, who testified that Tamihere had told him he had weighted their bodies and dumped them at sea.

According to perjury charges filed in court, the informant had claimed Tamihere had told him that he:

• Met Ms Paakkonen and Mr Hoglin at a picnic area.
• Assaulted and tied up Mr Hoglin.
• Sexually assaulted both.
• Disposed of Mr Hoglin by beating his head with a lump of wood.
• Had Ms Paakkonen with him when he “almost got sprung” when “a couple” came across
• Strangled Ms Paakkonen.
• Gave Mr Hoglin’s watch to one of his sons.

Mr Hoglin’s body was found with his watch and a pathologist found no evidence of skull fractures or a broken neck.

Tamihere is still a convicted murderer with a life sentence, and could be recalled to prison if he breaks the law.

The perjury conviction on top of other claims since unproven make the conviction look very shaky.