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SMITH, Phillip John 27/03/2015

Parole hearing
 Under section 21(1) of the Parole Act 2002

at (withheld)
Members of the Board:
Hon. J W Gendall QC
Ms S Pakura
Mr B McMurray

1. Phillip John Smith is serving a sentence of life imprisonment imposed on 15 April 1996 for a dreadful murder.  He was subject to a minimum non-parole period of 13 years but his parole eligibility date was extended until 9 April 2013, following upon conviction for multiple frauds committed in prison between 2006 and 2010.
2. Mr Smith was subject to a postponement order but seen on 8 April 2013 and again on 31 March 2014 when parole was declined.  In the Board’s decision of 31 March 2014, it sets out in some detail the reasons why parole was refused as in the Board’s opinion Mr Smith remained an undue risk to the safety of the community and he was scheduled to be seen again within the statutory 12 month cycle. As a consequence he was scheduled to be seen today.
3. By way of background we need to record that in the interim a significant development occurred in that Mr Smith absconded/escaped by failing to return to prison when afforded the privilege of temporary leave granted by the prison.  It is well-known that he fled overseas but was subsequently returned to serve his life sentence in prison.
4. The Board is awaiting a further updated and comprehensive psychological report from a senior psychologist which it called for in its last decision of 31 March 2014.  But because of intervening events it has not been possible for this to be completed and the Board will complete it.
5. The parole assessment report states that release on parole is not supported and that is unsurprising given that Mr Smith is a manipulative, serious criminal with a high-risk of re offending.  He advised the writer of the assessment report that accommodation was not relevant at present as parole is not a realistic option.
6. Parole is declined.
7. We need to record that Mr Smith waived his attendance before the Board today although he did not communicate that waiver to the Board until early this morning shortly before the panel, which had travelled from Wellington to see him, was to meet.  Naturally he is entitled to waive an appearance under the provisions of the Parole Act, however, he has now submitted that the reasons for his waiving at this late stage was that:
(a) “No disclosure of the information the Board will consider.”
(b) “No notification of hearing date or time.”
(c) “No comment to make at this point.”
8. This manoeuvre by Mr Smith is an illustration of what the Board has described in the past as his manipulative behaviour.  For the record we need to make it clear:
(a) On 15 January 2015 Mr Smith was advised that he would be considered for parole in the week beginning 23 March 2015. 
(b) On 19 March 2015 he was sent information the Board would use in considering his case.  “Information that the New Zealand Parole Board will use in considering your case on 27 March 2015.”  His claims, therefore are false.  Furthermore he signed his waiver form on 23 March 2015 but did not deliver it to the prison manager/representative until early in the morning of today.
9. The next step in the process must be when Mr Smith is to be seen again by the New Zealand Parole Board.  He is awaiting a hearing on charges arising out of his escaping and the Board awaits the new psychological report from the senior psychologist. 
10. In those circumstances Mr Smith will be seen again in the week commencing 23 November 2015 when the Board will consider parole questions again and will have open to it a number of options one of which may be the issue of a further postponement but if that was to be on the table Mr Smith will be given formal notice of that possibility under section 27(5) of the Parole Act 2002.

Hon JW Gendall QC
Panel Convenor