An inquiry into how convicted murderer and child sex offender Phillip John Smith managed to flee the country has revealed he was made an administrator to a computer suite in the country's maximum security prison.

Smith fled to Brazil while on temporary release from Waikato's Spring Hill prison and evaded authorities for nearly a week before being arrested and spending time in a Brazilian prison.

Official Information Act documents, released to Radio New Zealand, give some insight into the government's independent inquiry into how Smith was able to flee the country.

Dozens of witnesses gave evidence, including senior Corrections staff and police officers, and transcripts of the evidence have been released to RNZ.


Prisoners have access to computers for rehabilitation and education purposes. But they have no access to the internet and have to get a supervisor to print anything. They computers are also regularly checked by prison staff and have no USB ports or DVD drives.

But Smith had access to another suite of computers inside the therapy-oriented child sex offender's unit of Paremoremo.

He was also made an administrator of the suite of computers.

Chief information officer Jon Cumming said Corrections' head office was not aware the computers existed.

Head of IT security Tom Crumpton said the computers contained "lots and lots of games", as well as pirated software, music, movies and pornography.

There was nothing to suggest Smith was responsible for the content.

Corrections manager of custodial practice Richard Symonds told the inquiry that Corrections staff were aware of the computers, but they had not been cleared by management.

The inquiry was told that prison's head psychologist Jim van Rensburg was "instrumental" in bringing the computers into the prison.

Van Rensburg had hands-on involvement in the treatment of Smith and organised a support programme for child sex offenders, who were approved for temporary release.

He told the inquiry that he paid $200 to $500 from his own pocket to get the computers set up.

But he said Corrections management were aware of them and he got permission from the top before they were installed.

He also said Smith was found to have a USB stick.

Smith told authorities that he had been offered the USB stick by another prisoner but had declined it.

It was still a breach of prison rules but van Rensburg did not report it through formal channels. Instead Smith was punished by having visits and temporary releases denied for two months.