Murderer stalked victims from jail

BEHIND BARS: Phillip John Smith waited three hours in a laundry before the stabbing.
BEHIND BARS: Phillip John Smith waited three hours in a laundry before the stabbing.

A convicted murderer and child-sex offender who stalked his victims' family from jail has been running a mail-order business from prison – to the disgust of the dead man's family.

But the Corrections Department said there was nothing to stop inmates running a business while inside.

"This needs to be seriously looked at. It's just unbelievable," a relative of the man Phillip John Smith killed in 1995 said yesterday.

Smith, now 36, stabbed the 35-year-old Wellington man 19 times as he tried to protect his young son, whom Smith had sexually abused. The man was never named, to prevent identification of his son.

Yesterday, the Parole Board declined parole for Smith, citing concerns about his behaviour in prison. "There are a variety of allegations referred to ... ranging from study link fraud, to trading, to using a computer to type personal letters," board convener Marion Frater said.

"These all need to be investigated, as does his acknowledged involvement in running a mail-order business from prison."

In 1995, Smith stalked the family of the boy he had abused. They had fled from Wairarapa to a Johnsonville "safe house" after the abuse was exposed.

He hid a gun on a nearby property and returned the following week to wait three hours in a laundry before breaking into the house in the night and stabbing the father to death.

"He then held the boy's mother and her younger son hostage, refusing to allow them permission to call an ambulance for the father, who was dying," Justice Forrie Miller said in a 2008 judicial review. The boy, 13, was also stabbed in the attack.

In jail, Smith has completed an accounting degree and is now doing a bachelor's degree in business studies, majoring in finance.

The victims' relative, Lynda Tilbrook, 47, said she was disgusted to learn Smith had been involved with a mail-order ring in jail. "How the hell do you set up a mail business from prison, for goodness sake? Jail is supposed to be a punishment."

Smith had harassed her family multiple times since the killing, she said. After the murder, he rang the boy's phone number four times. He later told a Corrections psychologist he had wanted to let the boy know he was still there.

"Even just a few days after the murder he actually rang my family home and spoke to my mother and said: `Death comes easy when it's a [victim's surname]."'

Only four years ago an associate of Smith had appeared on another relative's doorstep, saying: "Smith says hello."

Prison telephone monitoring was introduced in 2008. Every prison pay-phone now has it.

Mrs Tilbrook said: "He has taken my family's dreams, their hopes, their faith, everything. He will always be after us. I will do everything in my power to keep that man in jail."

Corrections Department chief executive Ray Smith said he had just been made aware of the "serious allegations" surrounding Smith's prison behaviour. "This prisoner is a known fraudster, and has been manipulative and disruptive during the 15 years my staff have been managing him.

"We have been tracking this prisoner's activities for a number of years. This has included monitoring his telephone calls, direct staff observation and reporting to prison management, and monitoring of his prison trust account."

Prisoners could run a business only with the approval of the prison manager, which appeared not to have happened in Smith's case. His activities were now the subject of further investigation.

Corrections Minister Judith Collins was being briefed on the case today, her office said.

The Dominion Post