Toupee battle cost taxpayers $35,000

  • 23/03/2017
Balding murderer and sex offender Phillip John Smith without his toupee (file)
Balding murderer and sex offender Phillip John Smith without his toupee (file)

The case in which paedophile and murderer Phillip Smith was allowed to keep his hairpiece cost taxpayers $35,000.

Last week Smith won his legal challenge to keep the toupee, the court saying his right to freedom of expression had been breached.

Victims advocate Ruth Money says it's just another blemish in Smith's long record of taking advantage of the system.

"He's a narcissist, he's a pest, he keeps coming back. He's costing the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Smith was wearing the hairpiece when he escaped to Brazil while on temporary release from prison in 2014.

"Every taxpayer in New Zealand would think there are much better things to spend our money on," says Ms Money.

She says the courts got it wrong allowing Smith to keep his hairpiece.

"It's a privilege, it's not a right. However I believe Corrections, when they do their job appropriately and put in their submissions, the court will find common sense and that it isn't a freedom of expression at all."

An Official Information Act request shows senior Crown counsel, Crown counsel, assistant Crown counsel and law clerks spent a total of 215.88 hours as of March 22.

It total, it incurred $35,243.40 in fees, including work still in progress, and disbursements of $1250.10. The amount doesn't include GST.

But the monetary and manpower costs could rise, with the window still open for Corrections to re-think the matter.

Following the ruling, Corrections said it would be "reviewing our decision accordingly".

Smith had requested $5000 in damages, but that was denied.