16 Dec 2014

Smith to stand trial on prison escape

6:20 pm on 16 December 2014

Convicted murderer and paedophile Phillip John Smith has pleaded not guilty to escaping prison.

Smith appeared in court today, again by audio-visual link from Auckland Prison at Paremoremo, and he is due back in court in March.

Phillip Smith composition

The faces of Phillip Smith. Photo: Supplied

Smith is charged with escaping custody and making a false representation when applying for a passport - charges his lawyer Tony Ellis said he planned to defend.

The convicted murderer is accused of fleeing the country while on a three-day release from Spring Hill prison in Waikato.

Smith left New Zealand in early November, flying to Chile, then on to Brazil, and was detained in Rio de Janeiro a week later.

Much of this morning's hearing was taken up by a suppression hearing relating to the police summary of facts.

Smith's lawyer, Tony Ellis, opposed suppressing the whole document on the grounds that much of it is already in the public domain.

Judge Eddie Paul directed the police prosecutor and Mr Ellis to work on a redacted document that could be released to the media.

At the time of his escape Smith was serving a life sentence, having been convicted in 1996 of murdering the father of a boy he had sexually assaulted. He was also convicted of kidnapping and several other charges.

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