12 Nov 2014

Escaped killer Smith's criminal history

1:00 pm on 12 November 2014

Fallout from the Phillip Smith case has embroiled Corrections and other government agencies in controversy and led to calls for an overhaul of short-term prison release and monitoring of high risk offenders.

Phillip John Smith

Phillip John Smith Photo: Police

Smith absconded from 72-hour release from Spring Hill prison and, using a passport he had obtained under his birth name Phillip John Traynor, flew to Chile and on to Brazil.

He had been jailed in 1996 for murder, aggravated robbery, sexual violation, indecent assault on a boy and kidnapping.

Phillip Smith's criminal history:

  • June 17, 1974: Born Phillip John Traynor in Wellington.
  • 1992-1995: Sexually abuses his neighbour's son between the ages of 10 and 13.
  • December 1995: Murders the boy's 35-year-old father at the family's safe house in Johnsonville, Wellington, while on bail.
  • 1995-1996: Makes six phone calls to the man's family while in custody awaiting trial. The family say they hear heavy breathing.
  • July 1996: After pleading not guilty, he is sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 13 years for murder. He had numerous convictions from the age of 15 including aggravated assault, attempted arson, escaping police custody and blackmail.
  • December 1996: Loses first appeal against murder conviction and sentence.
  • May 1997: Chief Justice Sir Thomas Eichelbaum defends the decision to release Smith on bail in 1996, saying human behaviour is hard to predict.
  • November 2004: Classification as a maximum security prisoner changed to "high medium".
  • November 2005: Classification further changed to "low medium" prisoner.
  • September 2008: Starts running a mail-order business WSE Marketing from prison.
  • March 2011: After Smith tells Corrections about his company, an independent review finds he has not breached any rules.
  • August 2011: Corrections cracks down on prisoners running businesses, requiring them to gain first gain approval.
  • April 2013: Parole declined, but 12-hour temporary releases are recommended. Described as "intelligent", but "duplicitous".
  • Mid-2013: Obtains a passport under the name Phillip John Traynor.
  • November 2013: WSE Marketing is struck off companies register.
  • March 2014: Latest parole application declined. Risk of re-offending rated "high," though he had been making "good progress in terms of his temporary releases".
  • November 2014: Flees to Chile while on 72-hour temporary release from Spring Hill prison in Waikato.
  • Sources: Supreme Court, Parole Board, Corrections, Police, judicial reports, company records.

    Read the 31 March 2014 Parole Board decision on Phillip John Smith

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