The man who killed 6-year-old Coral-Ellen Burrows has been sentenced for the attempted murder of another man in prison by throwing boiling water on him and stabbing him multiple times.

During sentencing for trying to kill the other man, Stephen Roger Williams also loudly threatened to kill media gathered in the courtroom.

“F***ing stare me down again I’ll f***ing kill you,” the 45-year-old said to photographers.

Williams earlier pleaded guilty in the High Court at Wellington to a charge of attempted murder of a 47-year-old fellow inmate.

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Williams is serving a life sentence for murder after he beat the Featherston schoolgirl to death while high on methamphetamine in September 2003, then dumped her body by Lake Onoke (Ferry) in Wairarapa.

According to a summary of facts on the most recent offending, on July 31 in Rimutaka Prison, Williams first met the victim the day before when he moved into the cell next to him.

He offered the victim a cigarette and welcomed him to the unit.

But the next day Corrections officers searched his cell and found tobacco – a contraband item – leading Williams to believe the victim had told Corrections about the cigarette.

Williams sharpened a plastic knife using the blade from a pencil sharpener.

He went to the communal hot water Zip and filled his 1-litre flask with boiling water, then walked into the victim’s cell and threw the boiling water over him.

“While the victim was affected by the boiling water, the defendant began striking him in the neck area with the sharpened knife,” the summary said.

The victim managed to fight back and escape to the guard hut.

He suffered four stab wounds – one to the back of the head and three to the back of his neck – as well as extensive burns to his neck, chest, upper torso and arms.

In explanation Williams said he planned to kill the victim by stabbing him in the throat.

Williams is also in preventive detention following the attempted murder of a prisoner at Paremoremo in 2016.

Crown prosecutor Grant Burston said there was a pattern of three attacks on fellow prisoners, in situations where the attacks were planned, the intent was to kill, and Williams “expressed disappointment at the fact the victim was not killed”.

Stephen Williams tried to kill another prisoner at Rimutaka Prison. Photo / File
Stephen Williams tried to kill another prisoner at Rimutaka Prison. Photo / File

He said the court “must be concerned” about the offending and said Williams should receive a preventive detention sentence. He is already serving preventive detention for another attempted murder in prison.

He said Williams had previously said he felt there could be no consequences for his attacks on victims, as prison was already the worst thing that could happen to him.

When asked in court today whether Williams had anything to say about the offending, Williams said “nah” and appeared to tell the judge to “hurry up”.

Justice Churchman laid out Williams’ previous attempted murders, describing them as “callous, brutal and cowardly”, which caused Williams to swear under his breath.

The first attack in 2014 involved grabbing the victim in a headlock and stabbing him repeatedly in the neck and face with a sharpened toothbrush, continuing despite other prisoners urging him to stop.

Then in 2016 he struck again, this time attacking an inmate who had come to his cell for a tattoo.

The victim was sitting with his back to Williams as he received the tattoo.

“You stopped, picked up a broken piece of fluorescent light tube that you had hidden in the cell, and stabbed him in the neck. You then put him in a choker hold until he lost consciousness.”

Williams then began stomping on his helpless victim and hitting him with a broom with such force that it broke. He then used the sharp end of the broken broom to stab him in the back and neck.

That attack had been “planned for months”, the judge said.

The victim of the most recent offending said in a victim impact statement he bore the physical scars and memories of the attack, but was determined not to let Williams’ actions impact on his day to day life.

Justice Churchman said Williams has 98 previous convictions and a history of substance abuse, beginning with him starting to drink alcohol at just 10 years old.

He said it might seem pointless to impose a sentence of preventive detention when Williams was already on one, but the decision to impose it was on a matter of principle.

A psychologist’s report on Williams stated he appeared to be “motivated in part by [the] desire to be sentenced to life without possibility of parole”.

“I have to tell you, Mr Williams, you don’t need to do that [attack other inmates] to achieve your objective,” Justice Churchman said.

“You will never be released juntil you are no longer a threat.”

He told Williams it would take a “degree of courage” to change himself and become a functioning member of society, but that everyone was “capable of change”.

He sentenced him to preventive detention with a minimum period of 14 years in prison.

As Williams left the courtroom he again swore at photographers and threw a cup of water across the desk in front of him.



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