Bald murderer wins legal battle to wear toupee in jail

Nick Reilly
Philip John Smith escaped in 2014 (Picture: New Zealand Police)

A bald murderer from New Zealand has won a legal battle to wear a toupee in jail, after he successfully argued that it was within his human rights.

Phillip John Smith’s hairpiece was confiscated when he was recaptured by authorities in 2014, with the disguise proving vital to his escape.

But he has now successfully argued that the toupee is an ‘artwork’ that is essential to his self esteem.

Delivering sentence in Auckland’s High Court, a judge ruled that Smith’s ‘fundamental right to freedom of expression’ was breached when the hairpiece was taken away.

Phillip John Smith after he was recaptured in 2014 (Picture: New Zealand Police)

Smith was originally jailed in 1996 after murdering the father of a boy he had sexually abused. He has also previously been convicted of a slew of offences including extortion and armed robbery.

But he fled to South America with an illegally obtained passport in November while on temporary released for work.

Soon after, he was caught in Rio de Janeiro by Brazilian authorities and deported home.
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As part of his successful case to retain his toupee, Smith highlighted the public ridicule he received in New Zealand after it emerged that he had been wearing the wig while escaping, and claimed that he had felt ‘belittled, degraded and humiliated’.

High Court judge Edwin Wylie announced Smith’s victory earlier today, but also denied his request for financial damages.

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