Victim's sister disgusted by murderer's 'right to wear hairpiece'

The sister of a man murdered by convicted killer and sex offender Phillip John Smith is outraged he has won the right to wear his hairpiece in prison, after Corrections took it off him.

Smith argued the confiscation of his toupee was a breach of his right to free expression and the High Court agreed with him.

But the sister of the man he killed is furious with the ruling.

"Where are our rights? My brother should have had the right to bring up his family. My nephew should have had the right to be a child. And we sure as hell should have the right to live without Smith hanging over our heads all the time," she told Newshub.

"Do you have any idea how this sort of thing affects us? I'm so over seeing him unexpectedly on the TV or radio. I will fight this all the way. F**k the system. All for the criminal. I'm so, so angry."

She also has the support of victims' advocates.

"A right to be safe, a right to eat, a right to breathe, absolutely, not a right to have a toupee on your head, that is ridiculous," victims' advocate Ruth Money told Newshub.

But human rights barrister Tony Ellis had a different view.

"Why not pull his finger nails out? I mean what next? You have got to have rational civilised standards, it's not Syria," he told Newshub.

Smith skipped the country to Rio de Janeiro sporting the toupee.

Arguably vanity got him caught - he was recognised at a hostel, still wearing the wig.

A change of appearance would have been simple - Smith is naturally bald, but he's very sensitive about it.

"He doesn't consider it a frivolous matter - it is his self-esteem," Mr Ellis said.

After he was recaptured, Corrections pulled the pin on Smith's special permission to have a toupee.

He was forced to bare all and hated it, saying he felt "totally belittled", " degraded" and "humiliated".

Smith took corrections to court and here's the result:

Justice Wylie says in taking away the wig, the Auckland prison director failed to take into account "a relevant, and indeed mandatory, consideration, namely Mr Smith's right to freedom of expression".

"An important right has been breached."

"There has been a bit of vengeance for his escape, and making the Department look a bit stupid," Mr Ellis said.

Smith, who brutally stabbed to death the father of a young boy he was sexually abusing, went bald in jail and tried to get leave from prison to go to a specialist hair clinic.

That was denied, but he eventually got approval for a custom made hair piece. He argued the decision to take it away from him lacked humanity or respect for his dignity.

"He is a hypocrite. He took away the right to life, which is the ultimate right, yet he uses the same thing, the Bill of Rights, to get a piece of hair on his head," Ms Money said.

"Really what difference does it make to the Department of Corrections whether he has a wig or not? They should grow up," Mr Ellis said.

Corrections says since the escape, the toupee is inconsistent with prison safety and security, and the glue and chemical remover used with it is not a goer either.

It's now got 14 days to review its reasoning and make a fresh decision on the hairpiece.