Credit: Original article can be found here
Luana Roberta Taylor and Brian Frank Taylor were sentenced to prison for their role in a senior’s death. Photo / File
A long-time Auckland resident who, in 2016, became one of the first people convicted in New Zealand of failing to protect a vulnerable adult – after a 76-year-old lodger was found dead amid horrific conditions, weighing just 29 kilograms due to starvation – is fighting a decision to deport him to Canada.
Brian Frank Taylor, now 68, was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment in 2016 following the death a year earlier of Ena Lai Dung in their South Auckland home. His wife, Luana Roberta Taylor, was convicted of the same charge while Dung’s daughter, who also lived in the home, was convicted of manslaughter.
Emergency responders had found Dung’s body on a tarpaulin, where she was naked from the waist down and surrounded by flies. She had suffered 14 broken ribs and a broken sternum, but no medical assistance had been sought for those or the chemical burns that resulted from being left on the plastic sheet in her own urine and faeces.
Authorities determined she might not have eaten in over two weeks at the time of her death and she would have gone four or five days without water. She also suffered a gangrenous bed sore and another that had penetrated through to the bone.
In 2018, when Brian Taylor was released from prison, the parole board said it was troubled by his attitude towards the crime, “but at the end of the day, [the board] has to step back and make a realistic assessment of the risk to the community if he were released”.
“The Board questioned him closely on a number of points, in particular focusing on how it was that he did nothing in a situation when it must have been plainly obvious to him that the victim, who was in effect a type of lodger in the home of he and his wife, was in a sadly deteriorating state,” the decision noted.
“The Board was troubled by what seemed to be a minimisation of his role, bordering on a denial of responsibility. He does say that he feels the whole situation was horrible and that he should have done something, but seemed to strike a barrier in actually acknowledging the horror of what was going on plainly before his eyes …”
Brian Taylor moved to New Zealand 26 years ago after meeting his wife, a New Zealand citizen, in Canada. Although the Canadian citizen has had a residence visa since 2006, Immigration New Zealand served him with a notice of deportation in November 2021, citing the 2016 conviction. He appealed the deportation notice to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal, which heard his case during an August 2022 hearing.
Last October, the tribunal released its decision, noting that “there are exceptional circumstances of a humanitarian nature” regarding his case, but going on to find that those circumstances “do not make it unjust or unduly harsh for the appellant to be deported from New Zealand”. His appeal was declined.
Today, he appeared in the High Court at Auckland alongside his wife, where his immigration lawyer argued that the tribunal had erred in its decision.
During the tribunal hearing, it was noted that Taylor is now semi-retired and lives a quiet life with his wife, who he looks after as she is ill and in a wheelchair.
Because his wife was also convicted of the crime, it is unlikely she would be allowed by the Canadian immigration authorities to join him if he were to be deported back to Canada.
“The appellant and his wife are very close to each other,” the tribunal noted in its decision. “They love and respect each other and connect very well. They kept in touch [through] phone calls and letters while they were separated in prison for three years. That is the only period that they have been separated, which the appellant found hard.
“They have been together a long time and his wife is very special to the appellant.”
Brian Taylor told the tribunal he hasn’t been back to Canada since moving to New Zealand in 1997. While he has adult children there, he hasn’t spoken to them in years, he said, explaining that he no longer has any connections or support systems in place overseas.
“The appellant would be a wreck if he was deported to Canada,” the tribunal summarised of his argument. “He would have to start again and it would be inhumane. Even though he was in his 40s when he came to New Zealand, he would find it very difficult because there would be no one around to support him and he would be alone.
“New Zealand is his home because this is where the family he loves and cares for is.”
During today’s High Court hearing, before Justice David Johnstone, lawyer Simon Graham argued that the tribunal had erred because it didn’t put significant weight on a psychological assessment that found Taylor’s risk of re-offending was low. Without his partner of more than 30 years, his client faces a “lonely, bleak existence”, the Christchurch-based lawyer said.
Wellington-based lawyers Emma Dowse and Rosemary Grierson, acting on behalf of the Crown, argued the tribunal did not make an error and that its written decision shows Brian Taylor’s future risk of re-offending was clearly something that was considered.
Even if the tribunal did err, the outcome would have been the same had they not, they suggested.
Justice Johnstone reserved his decision.