An Auckland Prison officer has been suspended, a clinical psychologist has taken leave and two senior officers from Spring Hill Corrections Facility have been reprimanded as the Department of Corrections seeks answers on how convicted murderer and paedophile Phillip Smith was able to flee the country.
The Herald on Sunday can reveal the Auckland Prison officer is being investigated for allegedly supplying Smith a mobile phone and helping him secure a passport.
It is understood a clinical psychologist who treated Smith at a special unit for paedophiles is also the subject of an employment investigation. There is no suggestion he helped Smith escape in November, and Corrections won't say why he is on leave.
Letters of censure had also been sent to two senior prison officers from Spring Hill.
Smith boarded a plane for Chile just hours after being released from the Waikato prison for a 72-hour period. Corrections only raised the alarm over the high-profile inmate's disappearance a day after he failed to arrive at his sponsor's home.
The suspended prison guard, who the Herald on Sunday has chosen not to name, declined a request for comment when visited at his home near Auckland yesterday. The clinical psychologist could not be reached.
Smith's lawyer, Tony Ellis, was unaware several people had been investigated, or censured, by Corrections. He did confirm the clinical psychologist had previously prepared a report for his client for the Parole Board.
"I am not aware of any wrongdoing by him. I have not heard his name come up in the current allegation," he said.
Smith, 40, appeared in Auckland District court this week and pleaded not guilty to escaping custody and unlawfully obtaining a passport.
After allegedly fleeing the country on November 6, he was found in a Rio de Janeiro hostel a week later.
Smith has been serving a life term for the 1995 murder of the father of a boy he had sexually molested.
Corrections Services' acting national commissioner Jeanette Burns confirmed that on Friday an Auckland Prison staff member was stood down.
As it was part of an ongoing police investigation, Corrections was unable "to go into details of his identity as he is yet to face any charges in relation to allegations made by prisoner Phillip Smith".
She added the "overwhelming majority" of Corrections staff fulfil their duties with "integrity and commitment, in what is often a pressured and challenging environment".
"If staff don't meet the standards required of them we take the appropriate action and ensure that they are held to account."