Phillip Smith. Photo / Nick Reed
When Phillip John Smith left a Waikato prison on approved temporary leave in 2014 no one suspected that within days he would be leading authorities on an international man hunt.
Smith, also known as Phillip John Traynor, was meant to spend his time outside the wire at an address in Auckland with a sponsor.
The leave was part of a plan to reintegrate the convicted killer and sex offender back into the community.
But instead of going to the address in Auckland he made his way to the airport and boarded a plane to South America.
Smith’s plan was to never return to New Zealand.
However a chance sighting lead authorities right to him at a backpackers in Brazil.
So how did he get a passport?
How did he get past border authorities?
And how was he captured in the heart of one of the busiest cities in the world?
Today, Herald podcast A Moment In Crime goes back to Smith’s escape and explains just how police tracked him down and hauled him back to New Zealand.
A Moment In Crime is written and hosted by senior journalist Anna Leask – who has been covering crime and justice for NZME since 2005.
Leask has also reported on most of the major incidents and events in New Zealand during that period including the Christchurch quakes, Pike River mine disaster, March 15 terror attack and the White Island eruption.
“Each month I’ll take you inside some of our most infamous incidents, notorious offenders and behind the scenes of high-profile trials and events to show you what’s really happening in your backyard,” she said.
“Heroes and villains battle for justice to be done, and it seems no matter how horrifying the story, we always want to know more.”
SEXUAL HARM – DO YOU NEED HELP?
If it’s an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
If you’ve ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone contact the Safe to Talk confidential crisis helpline on:
• Text 4334 and they will respond
• Email email@example.com
• Visit https://safetotalk.nz/contact-us/ for an online chat
Alternatively contact your local police station – click here for a list.
If you have been abused, remember it’s not your fault.