11 Nov 2014

Escaped killer contacts lawyer

5:51 pm on 11 November 2014

Convicted murderer Phillip John Smith has been in contact with his lawyer in New Zealand today, saying that he wants to make more information public about why he decided to flee.

CCTV footage of  Phillip Smith as he passed through Auckland Airport.

CCTV footage of Phillip Smith as he passed through Auckland Airport. Photo: NZ Police

Smith was jailed in 1996 for murder, aggravated robbery, sexual violation, indecent assault on a boy and kidnapping.

He had been on a 72-hour short term release programme when he absconded and flew to Chile. Police today released an image of him as he departed from Auckland. They also announced a New Zealand police officer would go to Brazil to join in the hunt for him.

The authorities in Chile said he flew from there to Brazil.

The case has embroiled several New Zealand Government agencies in intense controversy and recrimination.

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He started messaging his New Zealand lawyer Tony Ellis yesterday and made further contact today.

Mr Ellis said he was first contacted via email and Smith asked him for the name of an extradition lawyer.

He said he had little detail about Smith's whereabouts, with his questions being of a legal nature.

"He did tell me to say one thing - that the family of of his victim are concerned about him and their safety and he said they should have no concerns, he's got nothing against them at all and they should get on with the rest of their lives."

Mr Ellis promised a media statement on Smith's behalf on Thursday morning.

But Radio New Zealand understands that Smith planned to seek asylum in Brazil, though it was not clear what grounds he would lodge this claim under.

Brazilian diplomatic officials in this country said the government in Brasilia would cooperate with New Zealand in returning Smith back home.

It was also understood that Smith wanted to make allegations against justice officials in New Zealand.

One of his targets would be the Parole Board which denied him release from jail.

Smith was understood to be unhappy that he was dubbed a psychopath by a witness during one hearing.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush this afternoon said an arrest warrant had been issued for Smith and Interpol alerts were in place for his known names.

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Photo: RNZ

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