The man jailed for killing Delcelia Witika in one of New Zealand's worst child abuse cases has been locked up again after a brief life of freedom under false names.

Eddie George Smith served two-thirds of his 16-year sentence for the manslaughter of two-year-old Delcelia before slipping back into life in South Auckland using several names.

But he has been arrested again, and is in custody awaiting trial on an arson charge.


The Weekend Herald has learned an application was lodged with the Parole Board yesterday, asking it to consider sending him back to prison to serve the rest of his time, regardless of the outcome of the arson trial.

Smith, 41, and his partner Tania Witika were jailed in 1992 for what the judge called one of the most disturbing cases of child abuse to come before the High Court.

Delcelia was bashed and burned and eventually died as a result of peritonitis, caused by blows to her stomach which burst her appendix.

Smith and Witika, then aged 28 and 23, did nothing to help her and on the day she died she was left home alone and uncared for while they went out visiting.

In September 2002, they were freed from prison under now-replaced laws that entitled them to be released after they had served two-thirds of their sentences.

Witika's first taste of freedom - in the back of a limousine sent to pick her up from Christchurch Women's Prison - gained wide publicity.

But Smith's return to liberty was low-key.

He was under the supervision of a probation officer for 12 months, and was obliged to undergo psychological, alcohol and drug counselling.


The Weekend Herald has learned that he lived with family in Manurewa and used different names to disguise his past.

He worked as a driver for employers who knew nothing of his history.

It is understood he did not get along with some members of his family, including a sister awarded custody of one of the two sons he had with Witika.

The second son, born after Delcelia's death, is in the custody of another family member.

In June, a Penrose business linked to his sister was damaged by fire. Smith was charged with arson in August and is to face a depositions hearing in the Manukau District Court early next year.

Since his arrest, Smith has remained in custody.

Next month, the Parole Board will hear a Crown application to have him recalled to serve the rest of his 16-year manslaughter term.

The Parole Act allows for offenders to be sent back to prison for several reasons. One of these is if the offender is deemed to pose an undue risk to the community.

For this, the Crown does not have to await the outcome of any charges against an offender before it seeks to have him or her locked up again.

A source familiar with Smith's case said the fact that he was able to use fake names to hide his identity was a serious concern.

"He gets let out into the public and no one has to tell his employees that he has changed his name and what his background is?"