The Dominion Post
Inquiry into child-killer’s security rating
Rimutaka Prison is undertaking a full review into how child-killer Stephen Williams was being held in low security, despite recent run-ins and an attempted murder.
Stuff last week revealed that Williams, housed in a low security area of the prison, allegedly threw hot water and sugar on an already gravely-ill prisoner before stabbing him.
After earlier refusing to say that Williams was the alleged attacker, prison director Viv Whelan confirmed he was. She also confirmed he was involved in another violent incident in April.
Williams murdered his thenpartner’s daughter, Coral-Ellen Burrows, in 2003, violently beating her when she did not get out of the car at school, then returning to where he dumped her and delivering a fatal blow to her head with a branch.
Burrows’ body was found 10 days later on the shores of Lake Ferry in Wairarapa.
Whelan said she had spoken to Coral-Ellen’s father, Ron Burrows, in light of the recent incidents. ‘‘I completely appreciate that hearing about incidents like this may be hugely distressing for victims, and I apologise.
‘‘We are carrying out a full review into this incident, which will include the circumstances of the assault and what led to it, and whether Williams’ security classification and unit placement were appropriate,’’ Whelan said.
Last week, a prisoner was taken to hospital after the alleged assault. That inmate is still at hospital being treated for injuries ‘‘not considered life-threatening’’.
Whelan said staff responded quickly and were able to bring the situation under control.
She said the evidence had been handed over to the police while they, and the Department of Corrections, conducted a full investigation.
Williams was being managed as a maximum security prisoner and it was likely he would be moved to Auckland’s maximum security prison once the investigations were completed.
A security classification tool was used to calculate a prisoner’s risk both inside the prison and externally. It based the finding on the seriousness of the prisoner’s Viv Whelan Rimutaka Prison director
crime, previous convictions, age, compliance with instructions from staff and interactions with other prisoners, Whelan said.
‘‘A prisoner’s classification is reviewed at least once every six months and following any significant event or change in behaviour. Our staff monitor a prisoner’s behaviour day to day but assaults are often spontaneous and occur without warning.’’
Ron Burrows, said he was in disbelief that Williams had been put in a low-security area of Rimutaka Prison before the last week’s attack, and especially so if he had recently attacked another prisoner. ‘‘It makes you wonder, how safe are the public?’’
Williams was originally given a 17-year non-parole period for the murder of Coral-Ellen but further convictions pushed this out to 2027, with more charges for the latest alleged attack possible.
When Williams was last in court in 2017, for an attempted murder of another inmate, it was his 97th conviction. He said then that he wanted to stay in jail for the rest of his life, as ‘‘punishment’’ for killing Coral-Ellen.
Police yesterday said they were still making inquiries and no charges had yet been laid.
‘‘Assaults are often spontaneous and occur without warning.’’