Escapee Smith took disguises to Rio and had pad ready
FUGITIVE Phillip John Smith was so confident of his great escape that he had already placed a rental deposit on a flat in Brazil.
A source close to the investigation told the Weekend Herald that Smith paid a US$1000 deposit on a flat in the Rio beachside haven of Copacabana via the company Rio de Janeiro apartments.
He used the name Phil Daniels to rent the apartment in Rua Almirante Goncalves, about 50m from Copacabana beach.
The 40-year-old had also drafted a letter to friends with plans for his new life. He had supplies in his bag that would help disguise him while he was on the run.
They included a suitcase and knapsack full of clothes, a laptop, women's makeup and wigs.
The source also said police were investigating whether Smith had a network of contacts in Brazil.
On Thursday - a week after he fled from New Zealand - his dreams of sun-soaked freedom ended in a small, dark hostel bunkroom and with the plea, "Don't hurt me."
For a man who considered himself a criminal mastermind, Smith has seldom stayed ahead of the law for long. Even his getaway tactics for the brutal 1995 murder of the father of a boy he sexually abused for three years went hopelessly wrong.
Smith tried to bundle the mother and remaining boy into the family's car but abandoned the plan when it would not start and he heard sirens. He fled, and attempted to sneak back to Wairarapa on the train.
But before he could make it back to his home town of Carterton, police collared him and he was before the court the following day.
At sentencing, Justice Laurie Greig highlighted not only the brutality of the murder but the way Smith stopped the rest of the family from helping the victim, whom they could hear moaning in another room as he bled to death.
Other details about Smith's offending revealed this week include:
- $47,565 in fraud, obtaining the money from Inland Revenue Department refunds. The money was never recovered and in 2012 he was ordered to repay it at $50 a week.
- Just days after being charged and released on bail for murder, Smith tried to extort $25,000 from a man. He threatened to make a disclosure about sexual indecencies. His victim's response was to leave information for police before killing himself. Smith was jailed for two-and-a-half years.
- Several breaches of bail and one case of fleeing police custody, for which he spent 10 days in prison.
Smith was born Phillip John Traynor but his mother changed his surname to Smith after she married when he was 3.
Though he adopted the new name, it was never changed by deed poll -- something he took advantage of from behind bars, obtaining business and accounting degrees. Later, while masterminding his escape, he used the name to renew his passport.
Smith's birth father, John Traynor, who had little to do with him in early years, was kept up to date with his son's early offending and police involvement.
"He lives in a Walter Mitty world. He thinks that he's just so much smarter than everyone else."