WELLINGTON, New Zealand – A convicted killer and pedophile from New Zealand who fled to Brazil while on temporary release from prison was deported Friday from the South American country.
New Zealand police said three officers escorted Phillip John Smith onto a plane that left Rio de Janeiro en route to New Zealand.
Smith, 40, fled to Brazil using his birth name Phillip Traynor on Nov. 6. It took authorities two days to realize he was missing.
He was recaptured after a week on the run in Rio de Janeiro, when somebody in a youth hostel recognized him from news reports.
Smith had been on a 3-day release from prison as part of a program designed to begin rehabilitating him into the community. He had been incarcerated since the mid-1990s after he was convicted of sexually abusing a neighbor's son and killing the boy's father.
The case has proved an embarrassment to New Zealand authorities and exposed a number of systemic problems.
The government has launched an inquiry to examine, among other issues, how Smith was able to get a passport while in prison, why he wasn't required to wear an electronic monitoring device when he was released, and if information-sharing and border controls were adequate.
While on the run, Smith brazenly sent an email to Radio New Zealand that said he'd planned his escape by running a criminal check on his birth name and finding it hadn't been red-flagged.
He said he'd also run various enterprises from prison that helped fund his escape.
"My only anxiety was that somebody that knew me might happen to be at the airport," he wrote.
Customs officials said Smith even filled out a required form when he left, declaring he was carrying a little over 10,000 New Zealand dollars ($8,000) in cash.
Authorities said Smith likely had outside help in planning his escape.
Smith told the radio station he chose to flee to Brazil because he figured authorities would face difficulties trying to extradite him if they did catch him. That's because Brazil doesn't have a formal extradition treaty with New Zealand.
Brazil earned a reputation as a haven for criminals on the run after the late British train robber Ronnie Biggs lived there for three decades as a fugitive before returning voluntarily to Britain, and prison, in 2001.
However, there was no need in the end for authorities to try and extradite Smith. Instead he was deported, a much quicker process.
Police earlier said Smith likely breached immigration laws when he entered Brazil by not declaring his criminal convictions, a deportable offense.