Killer on the run

A VIOLENT offender initially serving life in jail for bashing a teenager to death 20 years ago is now on the run from Tasmania Police after being paroled in 2009.

The Tasmanian Parole Board issued an arrest warrant for Smithton's Jamie Leigh Smith for non-compliance just two years after releasing him from Risdon Prison.

An unrelated court matter last week heard Smith was associating with underworld figures as recently as 2012 and had agreed to kill a woman as long as he could also murder another woman.

This never eventuated, according to the witness, and Smith is not wanted in relation to the matter.

The court also heard that police wanted to speak to Smith in relation to another death, but attempts to confirm this were unsuccessful.

In 1994, Smith, then 18, and Troy Matthew Philpott, 24, murdered 17-year-old Wayne Hodgen in Hobart's St Andrews Park because the pair found him irritating.

Smith attempted to slit Mr Hodgen's throat with a knife but when this did not work, he broke a piece of wood off a park bench and clubbed him to death while Philpott held him down.

The duo fled Hobart, hitch-hiked to Launceston, then travelled to Burnie before being caught camping in bushland near Rocky Cape four days after the murder.

In sentencing, former Chief Justice William Cox labelled the killing ``a brutal, senseless, unprovoked, premeditated beating to death of a defenceless 17-year-old victim''.

Smith was initially given a mandatory life sentence for the murder but was resentenced in 1998 to 15 years non-parole with Justice Cox saying: ``(Smith's) irrationality immediately raises concern for others in the community who might cross him upon his release.

``In my opinion, the protection of society requires that if such an offender is released on parole, it should be a conditional release revocable for the rest of his life should he not observe the conditions of his parole.''

Smith was paroled on his first attempt. In making the decision, the Parole Board considered a number of factors, including Justice Cox's remarks, and Smith's prison life, which included learning to read and lessons in chainsaw handling.

In its decision, the board intimated Smith understood he was fortunate to be given parole for murder, when many are not, and understood the gravity of breaching it.

``The applicant is aware that any breach of his parole conditions could result in him being returned to prison to serve the balance of his sentence of life imprisonment,'' the board said.

The decision said there are two registered victims related to Smith's murder, presumably family members of Hodgen, who Justice Cox said had been deeply impacted by the crime.

The board would not say if those victims had been notified, citing privacy concerns.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said it was now a police matter. ``Progress against any warrant is a matter for Tasmania Police and the Department of Justice cannot comment on this,'' she said.

Police asked anybody with information relating to Smith's whereabouts to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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