A CONVICTED fraudster from Stratton held in a succession of Filipino hell hole jails says he “doesn’t feel bitter”.

In his first interview since returning to the UK, Kevin Taylor, 54, said: “I’ve done my time. 11 years for £300 is unbelievable. I can sleep tight at night.”

He was locked up for a decade in the Philippines after being arrested in 2009 together with wife Charlene for allegedly defrauding jobseekers looking to move to the UK.

Kevin was held for more than five years without trial. In 2014, Kevin and Charlene were convicted and each sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. Recent changes to the law meant an early release for the pair.

Charlene was released in September 2018. Kevin was moved to a deportation facility where he was held for more than a year.

Kevin speaks out

He flew back to the UK last week. Speaking to the BBC, Kevin said he had never set out to defraud anyone.

“I never took a penny, actually. I never took a bean. The judge actually convicted us on a technicality,” he said.

“The fact was we didn’t realise a certain permit to provide visas or help people with visas and that’s what the judge convicted us on.

“We never set out to defraud anyone. I wanted to stay in the Philippines. I wanted to provide for my children in the Philippines so defrauding somebody and getting copped for it within six months wasn’t my idea of long-term stability for my kids.”

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Kevin and Charlene

Asked whether he felt remorse, Kevin replied: “Remorse? I think the Philippines have done far worse to me than I’ve ever done to them.

“They don’t see it that way and I don’t feel bitter about it."

Kevin said he felt remorse for acquaintances – including those he was accused of defrauding – who had fallen ill or died since he was jailed. “The only remorse I have over that is over the years I’ve watched so many families fall apart.”

That may include his own family. Wife Charlene is Filipino and, with a criminal record, may struggle to move to the UK.

Jail hell

In a 2013 letter to the Adver when he was being held at the San Mateo jail, near Manilla, Kevin said he was sharing a cell with 21 other prisoners. The men all shared a single toilet. Kevin wrote: “My own health is a battle against severe depression and skin diseases. As the humidity in the cell is high I suffer from boils and skin rashes, which are very painful and to keep these to a minimum I have to buy sulphur soap or medicated soap which become very expensive as I have to take three showers a day due to the heat.”

After his release from prison, Kevin was taken to the Bictuan detention centre, Manilla, where conditions were described as hellish.

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Conditions inside Bictuan Picture: VOICES FROM A BOX

Former inmate Frank Bohlert, from Aberdeen, was held there for 10 months before his release in June 2018. He told the Adver: “It’s worse than a normal jail. There is no automatic bed allocation and having to sleep on a filthy concrete floor without mattress and with rats all around you is normal.”

A welcome return

Welcoming her husband’s repatriation, Charlene, with whom Kevin has three children, said: “I’m so excited for him.”

North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson said: “I’m absolutely thrilled both for Mr Taylor and his parents, who have suffered untold distress over the last 12 years both through prolonged uncertainty, false dawns and the financial impact of supporting their son.

“I’m very grateful for the senior ministers taking the time to raise this very complex case and help us secure this very welcome news.”