Grieving mum’s relief as convicted killer Hayden Taylor kept behind bars

A man who murdered a pregnant teenager and buried her in a shallow grave will remain behind bars for at least another year.

The Parole Board has declined Hayden Taylor’s release – something that’s come as a relief to Carol Rankin who has repeatedly fought to keep her daughter’s killer since he was sentenced 24 years ago.

Nicola Rankin was 18 when Taylor forced her to walk into the remote Riverhead Forest in West Auckland in 1996. He then bludgeoned her with a spade and buried her in a shallow grave with her underwear removed and hands bound behind her back.

The 21-year-old was on bail at the time for kidnapping and raping Amanda Watt just months earlier – an attack that was strikingly similar in that he threatened her with a knife, tied her hands behind her back and drove her to Muriwai Beach.

Rankin, who now lives in Australia, said the loss of her daughter has taken a huge toll on her life and she has appealed to the board to keep Taylor locked up every time he has come up for parole.

At his 13th – and most recent – appearance last week she had a friend speak on her behalf as she was unable to fly back due to Covid.

Her message to the board was however the same as it has been at each of the previous hearings – she doesn’t think he’s rehabilitationaland believes he will reoffend if released.

Rankin said there is nothing to suggest Taylor, who is now 44, has changed.

“No, why would he? He’s never said what happened. He’s never shown me any remorse. There’s no emotion.”

In a decision released today the Board found Taylor remained an undue risk and declined parole.

“It’s great news,” said Rankin who vows to keep fighting his release. “I will always try and keep him in prison.”

The board said Taylor has qualified for the Release to Work programme which, allows some minimum security prisoners to engage in paid employment in the community, to help them gain employment on release.

However, there isn’t currently any work available for him.

Going forward the board said Taylor needs “a significant period of reintegration” which would include satisfying the members he was no longer a risk to the community given he continued to deny any sexual element to the murder.

His continual denial comes despite completing programmes for sex offenders and people with a high-risk of re-offending.

“We accept that currently there is no likelihood of further rehabilitation being provided to Mr Taylor in the absence of his acceptance of the sexual aspect of his offending rising from the murder.

“In those circumstances, to convince us he is no longer an undue risk, Mr Taylor would show his reintegration plan was such that any risk arising from our concerns would be significantly reduced”.

The board said there were also concerns about where Taylor would live if he was released saying an address that had been put forward was not possible.

“Firstly, there are victims in this area and, secondly, given this very serious murder occurred near that area, it would be wholly inappropriate for a release to take place there.”

The board ruled Taylor would remain behind bars until his next hearing in November 2021.


April 30, 1996: Kidnapped and raped Amanda Watts

June 1996: Released on bail and allegedly abducts and rapes a 14-year-old girl who doesn’t press charges

Sept 20, 1996: Murdered Nicola Rankin

Nov 20, 1996: Given a life sentence for Rankin’s murder

Dec 6, 1997: Sentenced to preventive detention after being found guilty of Watt’s rape and kidnapping.

2009: First hearing where information is revealed about the alleged attack on a 14-year-old girl.

Nov 2010: Parole Board hearing

Oct 2013: Outrage after he was released for unsupervised weekends at his home

Nov 2015: Completed Adult Sex Offender Treatment Programme where he continued to deny any element of sexual deviancy.

Sept 2016: Board remained concerned about Taylor’s continued denial of any sexual element to Rankin’s murder. He is denied parole after the board found he remained an undue risk to community safety.

Nov 2017: Board remained concerned about Taylor’s continued denial of any sexual element to Rankin’s murder and again denies parole.

Feb 2018: Release to Work application declined, partly because he was removed from the prison computer room due to inappropriate use of the computers. He is also involved in “rule breaking behaviour” during an earlier Release to Work at Spring Hill.

Feb 2018: Parole Board says Taylor will not be suitable for release for at least three years.

Nov 2018: Taylor appealed his PD saying a development in the law in 2005 meant he shouldn’t have received such a harsh sentence. It was quashed and replaced with a 14-year sentence.

Nov 2020: Taylor has qualified for Work to Release programme but no work available at the moment. Denied parole and due to reappear next November.

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