Murderer's parole questioned by Liberals

THE STATE government should urgently explain how a convicted murderer, now on the run, was paroled in 2009, the opposition says. 

However, the government has backed the Parole Board's decision to release Jamie Leigh Smith, who was sentenced to life for the bashing death of a teenager in 1994.

Yesterday The Examiner revealed that the board ordered Smith's arrest just two years after his release for an alleged breach of parole. 

It is unclear why the information had not previously been made public.

The decision to grant Smith parole does not appear on the board's website unlike other decisions. 

Last week a witness told the Launceston Magistrates Court, in an unrelated case, that Smith had been associating with known criminals in 2012 and police wished to speak to him in relation to a person's death. 

The court was also told that Smith had agreed to kill a woman as long as he could murder another woman _ but it never went ahead. 

Smith is not wanted in relation to the matter.

Tasmania Police confirmed on Friday that the arrest warrant for the Smithton man was still active. 

A police spokeswoman said officers investigated information ``about Mr Smith's whereabouts several months ago''. 

Opposition justice spokeswoman Vanessa Goodwin has called for more details surrounding the matter. 

``This is an extremely concerning incident and the minister (Brian Wightman) needs to provide a full explanation as a matter of priority,'' she said. 

A government spokesman said the board did ``an excellent job in carefully taking into account the circumstances of each case and making decisions accordingly''.

 ``The government does not have plans at this time to review the parole system,'' he said.

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

With Philpott holding the teenager down, Smith tried to saw open his throat with a blunt knife. 

Unsuccessful he broke off some timber from a park  bench and clubbed Mr Hodgen to death. 

Philpott also took turns bashing the victim.

Both were given a mandatory life sentence. 

In 1998 Smith was resentenced by then Chief Justice William Cox to life in prison with a non-parole period of 15 years.

At the time he said: ``(Smith's) irrationality immediately raises concern for others in the community who might cross him upon his release.''

Philpott was also resentenced and will be eligible for parole in 2015. 

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