Murderer and sex offender wants his wig back
To Brazil, where New Zealander Phillip John Smith has flown whilst on day release from Springhill Prison. Having obtained a passport under his birth name, Phillip Traynor, Smith foxed the CCTV and customs wonks by wearing a toupee as part of his disguise.
He then jetted to Rio de Janeiro, where after eight days on the lam he was nabbed by Brazilian police.
Back in prison, he wants access to his hair.
Smith has now asked his lawyer, Dr Tony Ellis, to file a judicial review if Corrections continue to deny him access to the toupee.
“He is upset about it. He took some time and effort to get it in the first place. It was approved by Corrections, and now he is not allowed to wear it,” says Ellis.
Auckland Prison Director Tom Sherlock said Smith was originally granted permission to wear the toupee to assist with his reintegration while on temporary releases. Because Smith was not longer eligible for temporary release, access to the item had been revoked. “A hairpiece is not an authorised item in prison, special permission must be granted by the prison director,” he said.
“As his circumstances no longer require the use of a hairpiece, approval has not been granted.”
Ellis is outraged:
“If he is entitled to it when he is released, why is it different in the prison? It’s is a grossly unfair punishment. They need too give it back, and stop messing about.”
Sociologist Greg Newbold from Canterbury University said not allowing Smith his hairpiece was impinging on his human rights. “It seems like pure vindictiveness on the part of Corrections. He is still entitled to be treated as a human being.” Newbold said it appeared as if Smith was being punished for wearing the toupee when he escaped. “It looks like a punitive measure to me, and it’s completely inappropriate.
“I don’t see any reason why a person should not be allowed a toupee in prison.”
However, Garth McVicar from the Sensible Sentencing Trust said Smith was in prison to be punished, not pampered. “I think that it is absolutely ludicrous. It is another example of our ridiculous offender-friendly, criminal-centred justice policy coming back to bite us,” he said. McVicar said he supported the protection of human rights within prisons, but Smith’s plea was going too far. “I wonder why on earth as a nation we are bending over backwards to make sure these offenders have these rights. I am all for having the right to survive and not be threatened, but this is going too far,” he said. Smith will go on trial in January to face charges of fraudulently obtaining a passport and escaping custody.