10 Feb 2011

Parole postponement inhumane, says lawyer

5:34 pm on 10 February 2011

A lawyer who previously represented murderer Phillip Smith says it would be bordering on inhumane for the Parole Board to deny the prisoner the right to apply for parole annually.

Smith, 36, was given a life sentence in 1996 for murdering a man in Wellington whose son he had been sexually abusing.

The Parole Board has denied Smith's latest bid for parole because of his behaviour in jail, indicating it may not let him reapply for up to three years.

In denying the latest bid, the Parole Board has made public some of its concerns about Smith's behaviour in prison.

It says he is continuing to use alternative names and a psychologist's report from 2008 accuses him of Study Link fraud.

The Parole Board says it wants the claims to be investigated.

However, human rights lawyer Tony Ellis says denying Smith parole for three years would run counter to the purpose of prison, which is to reform and rehabilitate.

Mr Ellis told Nine to Noon long-term prisoners should be given more opportunities to be able to get out into the community, not fewer.

Parole Board manager Alistair Spierling says the consideration of postponing parole would have resulted partly because Smith had not reached the board's expectations.

A family member of the man Smith killed says denying parole will bring temporary peace and time to recuperate.

The relative says revisiting parole each year has taken a horrendous toll on the family.

Inmate's link to business being investigated

The Department of Corrections is investigating Smith's role in providing advice to a business from prison.

Chief executive Ray Smith says Smith is not running a mail order business from prison, as has been previously reported.

Mr Smith says the inmate is associated with the business, but only in the capacity of providing advice, and an investigation has been launched to find out his exact involvement in the company.

Meanwhile, the department has defending its handling of Smith.

In a statement released to Radio New Zealand News it says Smith is one of a number of prisoners whose activities are regularly monitored.

However, it says there is no evidence that he is involved in criminal activities.

Corrections says if Smith is found to have breached prison regulations there are a number of sanctions he may face.

The Inland Revenue Department is also investigating Smith's company to ensure it is complying with the law.

Smith is expected to complete a child sex offenders programme this year, as well as a second university degree. He will next appear before the Parole Board in May this year.