Career criminal earned six-figure income in prison

By David Fisher

Arthur Taylor (pictured in 2001) was granted legal aid despite making an income of nearly $110k. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Arthur Taylor (pictured in 2001) was granted legal aid despite making an income of nearly $110k. Photo / Paul Estcourt

One of the country's most-notorious career criminals pulled in a six-figure income while in prison - then picked up legal aid as well.

Arthur William Taylor, 53, has received funding from the Legal Services Agency just months after an Inland Revenue tax assessment found he earned $109,600.

The earning period covered 2008-2009. Taylor has been in maximum security at Auckland Prison at Paremoremo since 2005.

A payment of $1320 in June last year was made to help Taylor fight a civil court case. He received an earlier payment of $4578 to fight criminal charges.

Taylor has been in prison for armed robbery, escape and kidnapping convictions and currently faces legal battles on a number of fronts.

He is facing charges over police allegations that he was involved in a prison syndicate that arranged the importation of ingredients to make methamphetamine.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Taylor was infamous for a string of armed robberies and for prison breaks, including one in 1998 that led to an armed cordon around an enormous area of the Coromandel.

He and the other escapers - including double murderer Graeme Burton - were found in a plush holiday home with an extensive wine cellar, which they had pillaged. Detectives found the men had stacked the fridge with red wine.

The Inland Revenue has assessed his income at more than $100,000, but Taylor has sued the Department of Corrections for financial assistance in a case against the department, one of a string of cases he runs from a room in the prison equipped with a computer and legal papers.

Corrections' documents show guards sometimes call it "Arthur's office".

Taylor's lawsuit comes after prison bosses restricted visits from a toddler who he claimed was his daughter, a claim the Department of Corrections rejects.

The girl was born in prison in June 2007. Taylor and the girl's mother, Carolyn Taylor, claim the girl was conceived while he was in prison. Child, Youth and Family removed the girl from Carolyn Taylor, who was sent to Auckland Region Women's Correctional Facility in December 2006 on a raft of charges.

While Taylor had early visits with the girl, regular monthly visits began when she was 14 months old and continued until she was just over 2 years old.

High Court documents show Taylor's visitation rights were cut after Taylor was allegedly involved in incidents at the prison that led to property damage and a cell landing flooding. The documents stated that criminal charges were laid.

Documents show Taylor has told the court that he wanted taxpayer assistance to fight Corrections and gain access to his daughter. He wanted the Justice Ministry to pay for a legal expert, a child psychology expert and Canterbury University criminologist Greg Newbold to give evidence.

The claim was challenged by the prison service's lawyer, who said he had offered no proof of being penniless.

The High Court eventually rejected Taylor's claim for a lawyer, saying his case asking for a lawyer was so well prepared it showed he didn't need one.

The Department of Corrections has also agreed to supply its own legal support to help him - allowing the prisoner to sue his jailers using their own lawyers.

Documents seen by the Herald on Sunday show Inland Revenue "assessed" Taylor's income at $109,682. The assessment was done to work out how much child support Taylor should be paying - about $23,000 for two other children, aged 3 and 16 at the time. But prisoners do not have to pay child support while in custody.

A Corrections spokeswoman said the department did not inquire into the wealth of prisoners. She said Taylor was treated like "every other prisoner".

Taylor had been assigned a room with his own computer and law books to work on the case.

Earlier this year, Herald on Sunday inquiries into the wrangle over the child led to claims from Corrections that Taylor should not be believed.

Assistant general manager Leanne Field said "we do not believe he is the biological father of a child born in June 2007".

But a Child, Youth and Family spokeswoman said Taylor was recognised by the agency as the father, after Taylor was named by Carolyn Taylor on the birth certificate.

The girl was being cared for in a foster home, the spokeswoman said. A carer was paid $55 an hour to take the girl from her foster home to the prison for the monthly visits.

She said the visits had changed to non-contact visits, meaning the pair communicate through a perspex wall.

Carolyn Taylor said yesterday that her husband declared all his income, paid taxes, and paid child support despite not being required to.

- Herald on Sunday

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