Stephen Wynne, who was 26 at the time, attacked Chantel Taylor on March 13, 2004, when she was just 27 years old – but her disappearance remained a mystery for more than a year
An ex-soldier who hacked a mum to death with a meat cleaver could be released from behind bars.
Stephen Wynne, who was 26 at the time, attacked Chantel Taylor on March 13, 2004, when she was just 27 years old. But her disappearance remained a mystery for more than a year, before detectives finally arrested Wynne in 2005 for a different offence.
He set fire to the Shah Jalal mosque in Birkenhead – a ‘revenge’ attack for the London bombings a year prior.
He became the prime suspect in the murder of the mum-of-three after a poem about a dead woman was found in his Birkenhead home. Wynne, who was chucked out of the forces for smoking cannabis, later confessed to taking Ms Taylor back to his home.
He said he struck her in the neck with a meat cleaver, claiming he believed she had stolen heroin. Her body has never been recovered and Wynne is serving life in prison for a minimum of 21 years. This was later reduced to 18 on appeal, Liverpool Echo reports.
And now despite his depraved crimes, the Parole Board recommended that Wynne should be moved from HMP Berwyn to an open prison. The Ministry of Justice refused to accept the recommendation in April 2022, leading to Wynne bringing a legal challenge over the department’s position.
A senior judge ruled in Wynne’s favour on Thursday, concluding that the Government had provided “no good reason” for rejecting the board’s recommendation.
Mrs Justice Steyn was told at a hearing in March that a Parole Board panel considering the offender’s case examined a nearly 1,000-page dossier and 16 reports over a period of more than 19 months.
It’s a fresh blow for Ms Taylor’s family, after the Parole Board said a hearing on whether to recommend Wynne’s release on licence must be held behind closed doors.
In a statement explaining the decision, Caroline Corby, The Chair of the Parole Board for England and Wales, said: “Although this case of murder and arson is distressing, there are no special features of this particular case which set it apart from other cases and which may therefore add to the proper public understanding of the parole system.
“If the hearing were to be in public, Mr Wynne may not be able to give his best evidence. This could impact on the effectiveness of the hearing. Significant portions of the evidence would need to be heard in private.
“In circumstances where evidence which is likely to be key to the Panel’s decision cannot be heard in public, it is difficult to see how a public hearing would aid transparency or public understanding of the parole system or the decision in this case.
“Mr Wynne’s Prisoner Offender Manager, Community Offender Manager and Psychologist all have concerns that a public hearing could compromise any release and risk management plan and may place Mr Wynne at risk of harm.”
In emails to the Parole Board, the charity Families Fighting for Justice said on behalf of her Chantel’s mum, Jean Taylor, that: “Chantel Taylor’s life was laid bare in the public domain.
All the words from the night of March 13, 2004, were Wynne’s words and Wynne’s words only. He lied and yet Chantel Taylor’s health was out there in the public domain. She was the victim, yet Wynne’s health and certain matters cannot be laid bare.”
Wynne’s minimum term expiry date is July 27, 2023, meaning he could be released on licence if the Parole Board concludes he no longer poses a risk to the public.
In its decision recommending that Wynne could be moved to open conditions, the Parole Board said he had been a “calm, resolved and compliant prisoner in the custodial estate”, that he was “unlikely to abscond”, had shown “insight and no longer ruminates with feelings of grievance” and that he had a “sustained period of good behaviour going back many years”.