Smith in custody in Brazil

It’s reported that Fugitive Phillip Smith taken into custody in Brazil…

Fugitive Phillip Smith has been taken into custody in Brazil.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush made the announcement just after 4.30am, saying Brazil Federal Police had Smith in their custody.

The New Zealand police liaison officer in Brazil visited Mr Smith and confirmed his identity.

In one way this is good news. He shouldn’t get away with breeching his temporary release and sentence.

In another way it’s not so good, there were many feelings of “good riddance”.

What now? How easy will it be to get Smith back to NZ?

Police Minister Michael Woodhouse said New Zealand did not have a formal extradition treaty with Brazil, which prompted concerns that returning Smith to this country could be a lengthy, complex process.

But he said Smith could be liable for deportation, which would be a simpler process than extradition.

Smith was not travelling on a valid travel document and he had failed to disclose his convictions when entering Chile and Brazil, meaning he was in the latter country illegally and could possibly be deported.

University of Auckland international law expert Bill Hodge believed if Smith was caught, he could be deported from Brazil based on problems with his visa.

“Then [they would] simply send him to the airport to deport to a place where an airline will carry him, and that will be in the first instance, Santiago, Chile – where they will deport him further out of transit back to New Zealand.”

So he could end up back in custody in New Zealand soon.

And then the issue of parole and release will come up again sometime.

Smith had committed many offences. Murder was the worst, and it was particularly nasty, as described on Campbell Live last night:

The victim was molested by Smith between the ages of 10 and 13 and was forced to watch as Smith stabbed his father to death, while out on parole in a violent home invasion in 1995.

When Smith was finally locked up, he continued to stalk and taunt the victim and his family from behind bars.

“He had a hit list to kill the whole family,” he says.

The victim described Smith’s predatory behaviour toward him and his family while on bail, saying Smith would stalk the family house for weeks before violently entering, despite conditions expressly prohibiting him from contact with the family. It was on bail that Smith stabbed the victim’s father to death in front of his eyes.

He says he has had trouble coping with the situation. Ever since Smith fled to South America, he has been sleeping with a knife under his bed, afraid the man who killed his father will come after him too.

“I’ve got mixed emotions – anger, fear. It’s not the first time they have let me down, and my family down.”

He is worried for the future and wants to see Smith put “back to where he belongs”.

While fleeing has brought this all up again Smith may have done some good, inadvertently, by fleeing.

He is obviously still high risk. Surely this justifies keeping him locked up, with no temporary release. This may not be indefinite but it should be for a long time at least.