Sunderland narcoleptic knifeman loses human rights bid

Newcastle Crown Court
Newcastle Crown Court

A 'dangerous' narcoleptic knifeman from Sunderland who accused the Ministry of Justice of violating his human rights has had compensation hopes dashed by a judge.

Andrew Derek Tait, 32, of Peebles Road, was jailed indefinitely for public protection (IPP) at Newcastle Crown Court in 2008 for wounding his cousin, Marc Johnston, with intent.

He was ordered to serve a minimum of only three years behind bars - but remains in prison to this day after the Parole Board refused to sanction his release.

Tait's open-ended sentence - which is almost identical to a life term - means he will only ever be freed if he is considered safe to return to the community.

At London's High Court, Tait sued Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove, claiming he was being given no fair opportunity to earn his freedom.

He said that amounted to a violation of his "right to liberty" enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.

His barrister, Philip Rule, said he had been denied access to rehabilitation courses he needed to attend if he was every to prove himself safe to release.

However, Tait will now receive unwelcome news in his prison cell after senior judge, Mr Justice Kerr, rejected his claim.

He said: "I reject the submission that the Secretary of State has irrationally made Mr Tait's release dependant on completing courses that are not available to him."

The judge acknowledged that the case "falls close to the line" and that Tait had come within an ace of winning his case.

Delays in assessing Tait's learning ability and the impact his narcolepsy had on that meant the Ministry of Justice was 'now perilously close' to breaching the duty it owed him.

But he concluded: "The evidence shows that the Secretary of State does now provide and operate a reasonable and sufficient system of courses and assessments in accordance with his obligation".

The court heard Tait suffers from narcolepsy and has had the sleep disorder since the age of about 12.

After the April 2007 attack on his cousin, Tait taunted his victim: "You'll not take the p*** again, and you'll want to get some pressure on that before you bleed to death".

He had assaulted Mr Johsnson before, in September 2006, striking him on the head with a bottle.

He failed in a bid to get his indefinite sentence overturned at the Court of Appeal in March 2012.