1974 exorcist 'killer' back before court

30 YEARS ago the nation was shocked by the details of the Ossett exorcism case as Michael Taylor was cleared of his wife's bizarre murder by reason of insanity – and this week the macabre case resurfaced.

On Monday, Taylor, 61, was back before the court after displaying similar psychiatric conditions following his remand on sex charges.

In 1975 Taylor was found not guilty of the killing of Christine Taylor.

It was claimed he had undergone an all-night exorcism in Barnsley in October 1974 where 40 demons were cast out of him.

Leeds Crown Court heard how the former butcher travelled home to Havercroft, Ossett, but he became convinced his 29-year-old wife was also possessed by an evil spirit.

Prosecutor Geoffrey Baker QC said: "At about 10 o'clock that day this man attacked his wife with his bare hands, tore her eyes out, her tongue out and tore her face almost off. She died very quickly."

Taylor was found bloodstained and naked in the street, shouting: "It is the blood of Satan."

His mother-in-law's poodle was also slain.

This week the court heard how he was acquitted of murder but was sent to Broadmoor for two years. He then went to a secure ward in Bradford for two years before being released.

Judge James Stewart QC said at Monday's hearing: "His wife died in the most bizarre circumstances. He said the old case had "no bearing" on the circumstances of the current case, where he twice indecently touched a teenage girl. Taylor, of Wesley Street, Ossett, told police it was all his fault and then asked: "Am I going to Broadmoor for murdering my wife?"

Judge Stewart was told the psychiatric problems, which existed in 1975, had reappeared following Taylor's one week in custody over the sexual assaults.

But the condition has disappeared since he got bail.

The court heard he touched the girl, who later told her mother what had happened. She later challenged Taylor.

Peter Moulson, mitigating, said: "There have been a number of suicide attempts. One was the cutting of his wrist. He has been injured from jumping from a bridge. There was injury to the back and to the legs."

The barrister said it was not a case involving a "predatory paedophile".

He said Taylor pleaded guilty to two charges of sexual assault, there was a low to medium risk of re-offending and there were no previous convictions.

Judge Stewart, passing sentence, said: "You have four times attempted suicide because of your distress over what you have done.

"I have come to the conclusion the public interest is better served by making you the subject of a community rehabilitation order with a condition of treatment."

The three-year order will include psychiatric treatment.

l Background, page 7.