30 Nov 2014

Corrections procedures to be tightened

3:42 pm on 30 November 2014

The Corrections Department will tighten up procedures for vetting sponsors for its temporary release programme, after the escape of Phillip John Smith.

Phillip Smith

Phillip Smith shortly before he was deported from Brazil. Photo: Brazil Federal Police

The murderer and child molester was caught in Rio de Janeiro a week after fleeing New Zealand while on temporary release from prison.

He arrived back in the country under police escort early yesterday, and was taken to the maximum security unit at Auckland Prison.

Jeanette Burns

North regional commissioner for Corrections Jeanette Burns. Photo: RNZ / Kiri Ennis

The Department's northern regional commissioner Jeanette Burns said it would be looking more carefully at the eligibility and suitability of people sponsoring prisoners on temporary release.

And she said decisions would be made on whether more secure monitoring was needed.

"Just that whole question around eligibility versus suitability, whether we need more secure monitoring."

She said Smith was also currently segregated from other prisoners.

Birth father 'relieved' Smith's back in jail

Smith's birth father, John Traynor, said he was relieved the convicted murderer and child molester was back in prison, for the sake of his victims' family.

Mr Traynor said he was pleased Smith had been brought back to New Zealand so quickly.

He said the community, and especially the family of Smith's victims, were now safe again.

Mr Traynor said he did not expect his son to be released from prison for many years now.

Police said it could be several weeks before charges were laid against Smith over his escape.

Smith was jailed in 1996 for stabbing to death the father of a boy he had been convicted of sexually assaulting.

He was taken into custody in Rio de Janeiro on 13 November after fleeing New Zealand.

Using a passport issued in his birth name Phillip Traynor, he flew out of Auckland on 6 November to Chile, and then travelled to Brazil.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs