18 Mar 2015

Phillip Smith and sister in court

2:12 pm on 18 March 2015

The murderer and paedophile Phillip John Smith and his sister, who is charged with helping him flee the country, have appeared in court together.

Phillip Smith

Phillip Smith Photo: RNZ / Murielle Baker

Smith fled the country in November while on a three day release from Spring Hill prison in Waikato, flying to Chile and then Brazil.

Smith was flanked by eight security guards in the Auckland district court this morning.

His sister, Joanne Barbara Smith, 33, has been charged with assisting him to escape lawful custody.

Smith's lawyer, Tony Ellis, had applied for his case to be referred to the High Court but the judge adjourned that application to be heard on 7 May.

Mr Ellis told reporters outside the court his reason for the referral surrounded the complexities of his defence, with one being the alleged unlawful custody of Smith by the police in Brazil.

He said he was awaiting paperwork from overseas to determine whether the police in Brazil lawfully took the murderer and paedophile into custody.

"There appears to be a proposition in Brazil that you can't send somebody back to an overseas country if they've got imprisonment beyond 30 years - and life imprisonment is over 30 years. So it's simply a question of whether that is the law of Brazil"

Smith has been remanded in custody, while Joanne Smith has been remanded back on bail.