18 Feb 2015

Prison over Smith passport help

4:11 pm on 18 February 2015

The Whanganui man who helped convicted murderer and paedophile Phillip Smith get a passport before he flew to South America has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Christopher Ryan Clifton in court for sentencing on 18 February 2015.

Christopher Ryan Clifton in court for sentencing on 18 February 2015. Photo: RNZ / Alex Ashton

Christopher Ryan Clifton, 25, pleaded guilty to making a false representation under the Passport Act last month.

Phillip Smith

Phillip John Smith Photo: RNZ / Murielle Baker

He also admitted threatening to kill a police officer and unlawful possession of a knife.

In the Whanganui District Court, Judge David Cameron said a starting point of 27 months in prison was appropriate - but reduced this because of Clifton's early guilty plea and his assistance of the police.

He denied Clifton's appeal for home detention because he thought that could put the public at risk given his history of offending.

Clifton's lawyer Stephanie Burlace sought a sentence of six months for the passport charge and a further six months over the threats and weapons.

She also passed Judge Cameron letters from Clifton, both to the officer he threatened and to Phillip Smith's victims.

Smith left New Zealand in November while on a three-day release from Spring Hill Prison in Waikato, flying to Chile and on to Brazil.

He was later detained in Rio de Janeiro and returned to New Zealand.

Police have also charged a woman with helping Smith escape. She has been summonsed to appear in the Auckland District Court next week.