Phillip John Smith's legal challenge over a judge allowing him to be handcuffed in court has been thrown out.

The 42-year-old, who is serving a life sentence for murder, was in custody over an escape to Brazil in November 2014 and was brought to Auckland District Court for a pre-trial hearing.

Smith had been identified as a maximum security prisoner and a flight risk by Corrections and security officers were directed he should be handcuffed in all non- secure areas at the court.

The courtroom is not considered a secure area and Smith was handcuffed to a security officer with a chain about 1m long.


The officer sat next to Smith in the dock and followed him to the witness box when he gave evidence.

It became apparent at that stage that he was handcuffed and his counsel Tony Ellis applied to have the cuffs removed.

A judicial review was made to the High Court after Judge David Sharp refused to have Smith unrestrained.

In a decision released this week, Justice Anne Edwards declined the application.

"I am not persuaded that Judge Sharp applied the wrong legal test, or took into account irrelevant factors," she said.

Subsequently, in an unusual legal procedure in July, a jury was chosen for a trial and the judge immediately directed the 12 men and women to find Smith guilty.

Charges of escaping lawful custody and making a false statement to renew a passport have been added to his lengthy criminal record, along with murder, child sex abuse, kidnapping, tax fraud and arson.

Because Smith did not admit his guilt, this will allow him to pursue Brazilian authorities for what he claims was an unlawful deportation when his bid for freedom ended in a backpackers' hostel in Rio de Janeiro.

An extra sentence of 33 months was handed down for the prison escape.