The lawyer for convicted murderer Phillip John Smith has asked for a stay in proceedings for charges laid over his alleged escape to Brazil last year.

Smith allegedly fled to the South American country while on temporary release from prison in November.

Yesterday, his lawyer, Tony Ellis, said he would argue Smith was unlawfully returned to New Zealand and his rights to a presumption of innocence were breached.

In Auckland District Court this morning he told Judge Nevin Dawson he was asking for a stay of proceedings.


Mr Ellis asked for six weeks to prepare his case, saying the file could run into 300 pages with documents on the Brazilian police and an estimated 200 pages related to the media coverage of the incident.

Smith appeared via audio-visual link from Paremoremo Prison.

The case will be back in court in August, with Smith again appearing via AVL, his lawyer telling the court: "I think he likes the outing."

Smith was jailed for life in 1996 for murder, sexual assault and kidnapping. He is now facing further charges - which he denies - over his alleged escape of custody last year.

His sister Joanne Barbara Smith is also facing charges relating to his alleged escape. She did not appear in court today, and was excused from attending the next hearing in person, as she lives in Palmerston North.

Smith allegedly fled to South America while on temporary release from Spring Hill Corrections Facility in South Auckland on November 6. 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 caught in Rio de Janeiro on November 13 - a week after he left New Zealand last year.