9 Nov 2014

Murderer on the run after temporary release

10:09 pm on 9 November 2014

A convicted murderer is on the run after he was temporarily released from Springhill Prison near Huntly.

Phillip John Smith

Phillip John Smith Photo: NZ Police

Police say Phillip John Smith has been missing since he was released on Thursday, but authorities have only recently learnt that.

Smith was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1996 for stabbing a man in Wellington whose son he had been sexually abusing.

He had earlier tracked the family from the Wairarapa, where he was facing sex charges, to the Wellington suburb of Johnsonville, where they were living in a supposedly safe house.

The police said he was considered dangerous and should not be approached.

They said he may be making his way to the Manawatu or Wellington regions, and anyone who had any information should contact them immediately.

Smith, 40, was supposed to be staying with a friend in Auckland but never showed up on Thursday.

He was denied parole last year because the Parole Board concluded he remained high-risk and a serious danger to the community.

In a 2010 parole decision, the board called his offending violent, callous and manipulative.

Smith has been convicted of further crimes while in prison, including using documents for financial advantage and causing loss by deception.

Corrections National Commissioner Jeremy Lightfoot said Smith had been on an approved temporary release.

Mr Lightfoot said Smith's disappearance was a serious breach and the department would review the circumstances of his release.

He said Smith had been out of prison on temporary release successfully several times this year already, as part of his reintegration programme.

A Corrections spokesperson said prisoners on temporary releases were not electronically monitored.

Instead, the offender was monitored by a support person in the community during their release.