By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Phillip John Smith, a convicted child molester and murderer in New Zealand, was let out on temporary leave from prison Thursday, November 6th and immediately used an illegal passport under the name Phillip John Traynor to flee to Chile, and is then believed to have moved on to Brazil.
It is reported that the forty-year-old left Auckland on an LAN Airlines flight to Chile a few hours after getting out on a temporary release from Waikato’s Spring Hill Corrections Facility.
The New Zealand Herald reported yesterday that Brazilian Federal Police were assisting New Zealand authorities and a Washington-based New Zealand police liaison officer was traveling to Brazil to work with local law enforcement authorities.
New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush told the media he would not rule out the possibility Smith had fled to neighboring countries, acquired new fake passports or network with other criminals in South America.
Smith was born Phillip John Traynor in Wellington in 1974 to parents John and Patricia Traynor, but at the age of three his mother remarried, and changed her son’s name to Smith. He was convicted of sexually abused his neighbor’s son from 1992-95 and in 1995 murdering the father of the boy while on bail for extortion, and escaping police custody while on bail for earlier offending.
In 1996 he was sentenced to life, with a minimum non-parole period of thirteen years, for murder, sexual offenses against his victim’s son, aggravated burglary of the family’s home and kidnapping of the victim’s wife and son.
Auckland human rights lawyer Dr. Tony Ellis, who had represented Smith several times for appeals since 2002 and at his 2011 parole hearing, said he was unsurprised Smith had contacted him after fleeing New Zealand last Thursday afternoon.
Yesterday morning, Ellis received his first of five or six emails from Smith, and said Smith asked him to represent him as his lawyer and posed various legal questions in his emails, including about extradition.
Smith told Ellis which country he was in but gave no details of his location and asked Ellis to refrain from releasing any information about his whereabouts. Ellis declined to confirm reports he was in Brazil but suggested his location could change. “If the media reports are right, then he may well change his position about that. […] If he was in Brazil, it’s the fifth biggest country in the world.”
In 2009 Brazil launched the ‘Fim da Linha’ (End of the Line) initiative by the federal government. The program is designed to combat both the reputation and reality Brazil has for being a haven for international criminals seeking refuge from the law of their home countries.