Release denied after psychologists disagree

A man who stomped on his victim in a coma in a store in Wanaka will remain behind bars after a disagreement between psychologists.

Ahu Stanley Taylor (45) was convicted of attempted murder and is serving a 10-year, eight-month prison sentence following the May 2015 assault on Kahu Vincent, which took place at the city’s Night ‘n Day .

The victim was in an induced coma for 12 days with severe swelling and bleeding in the brain, which was followed by three weeks in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Mr. Vincent continued to suffer for years after the incident.

Taylor appeared before the Otago Correctional Center Parole Board last month, asking for early release.

It was noted that he had a criminal history, which included serious assault, in Australia dating from 1994 to 2010, as well as subsequent convictions in New Zealand.

His lawyer Deborah Henderson highlighted her client’s frustration at having undertaken 55 sessions with a private psychologist over three years and “not knowing when an end is in sight”.

A correctional psychologist, however, put Taylor in the “moderate” risk category and felt he needed to demonstrate change over a long period of time.

A specific rehabilitation program had been prescribed for the inmate, but he avoided it in favor of the private clinician, the council heard.

The conflict between the views of the two medical professionals caused some consternation to Judge Geoffrey Ellis.

He said Taylor’s psychologist needed to explicitly document how the man’s risk was mitigated through their sessions and how it would be managed if released.

“At this point, the department recommended … that there be a review by a departmental psychologist of his progress and safety plan after treatment was completed,” Judge Ellis said.

He said Taylor was “very smart” and used his time in prison as constructively as possible.

On May 9, 2015, Taylor and Leon Rowles launched a relentless attack on Mr. Vincent, knocking him to the ground and stomping on him for over 90 seconds, continuing even as he lay motionless on the ground.

Taylor delivered 23 one-foot kicks to the victim’s head and three times used a bench as leverage so he could use both feet.

In total, about 81 blows were inflicted.

Rowles was jailed for seven years and a month and was granted parole in December 2018.

Taylor will see the board again in October. His sentence expires in 2026.

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