8 Jan 2018

Phillip John Smith to remain in high security

5:56 pm on 8 January 2018

Convicted murderer, child sex-offender and prison escapee Phillip John Smith has failed in his bid to move to a low-medium security prison, despite having his security classification downgraded.

Phillip John Smith

Phillip John Smith escaped to Brazil while on temporary release, using a passport obtained under a different name. Photo: RNZ / POLICE

Smith is serving a life sentence for murdering the father of a boy he was sexually abusing.

He escaped to Brazil after being temporarily released in 2014 by using a passport with his birth name, Phillip John Traynor.

He was recaptured by Brazilian authorities six days later.

The escape prompted an inquiry, and Parliament passed a law to make it harder for prisoners to do so in future.

Two years after his escape, Smith's security classification was downgraded from maximum to high-security.

Six months later his security classification was again downgraded to low-medium, but he has continued to be held in a high-security prison wing, where there are more guards and he must spend more time in his cell.

Smith took his case to the High Court, claiming Corrections' actions were unlawful.

Justice Lang found that Corrections had not had enough time to formulate a plan to move Smith, but Smith could renew his application if he retained his low-medium security rating and Corrections failed to come up with a plan.

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