Rob Kidd is a NZME. News Service court reporter based in Auckland.

Phillip John Smith's sister sentenced

Phillip Smith allegedly fled to South America while on temporary release from Spring Hill Corrections Facility in South Auckland on November 6. Photo / Supplied
Phillip Smith allegedly fled to South America while on temporary release from Spring Hill Corrections Facility in South Auckland on November 6. Photo / Supplied

Phillip John Smith's sister has been sentenced to eight months home detention after helping him unlawfully get a passport while he was in jail.

Joanne Barbara Smith, 34, appeared in Auckland District Court this morning where Judge David Smith was told of her "most extraordinary history".

He suppressed the bulk of those matters and said it was that which saved her from a period of imprisonment.

"Assisting somebody serving a lengthy sentence must be regarded as very serious," Judge Smith said.

"You and others need to know actions of this kind will be dealt with severely. But your circumstances are so exceptional I get to the point where a custodial sentence would be the wrong response in this case."

Smith's lawyer Annabel Maxwell-Scott said her client was 23 weeks pregnant with her third child at the moment and the father of the child had recently gone missing.

Ms Maxwell-Scott said it was the defendant's circumstances that made her susceptible to her brother's alleged plan.

"Her vulnerability made this all too easy," she said.

Phillip Smith allegedly fled to South America while on temporary release from Spring Hill Corrections Facility in South Auckland on November 6, using a passport his sister helped him obtain.

He was serving a life term at the time for the 1995 stabbing murder of the father of a boy he had sexually abused.

At the time, Smith - who had tracked the family down to a Wellington house where they had moved to escape him - was on bail for the sexual offending and charges of blackmail against a man who later killed himself.

He was detained in Rio de Janeiro on November 13 - a week after he left New Zealand last year.

Smith appeared in Auckland District Court at the end of last year where he argued "excessive" media coverage meant that he would not get a fair trial.

He provided an affidavit to the court and even got into the witness box to express his distaste for one media report which contained the word "escaped" nine times.

Not once was it prefaced by the word "alleged", Smith said.

He also took umbrage at a government report which he claimed made similar assertions.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush has been called to give evidence but is in the process of challenging that ruling.

Joanne Smith will serve her home detention sentence at a Palmerston North address.

- NZ Herald

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