14 Mar 2017

Coral Burrows' killer given preventive detention over prison attack

5:43 pm on 14 March 2017

Stephen Roger Williams, who murdered his six-year-old step-daughter Coral Burrows, doesn't ever want to get out of prison.

And today the possibility of him being released any time soon became even more remote.

Inside Paremoremo Prison

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Williams, 42, was serving a sentence of life with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years inside Auckland's maximum security prison, Paremoremo, when he lured a fellow prisoner into his cell and stabbed him in the neck with broken fluorescent light bulbs and a broken broom handle.

Today, he was sentenced to preventive detention, meaning he would not be released until he could prove he was no longer a risk to society.

Crown prosecutor Scott McColgan said Williams believed fellow inmate and killer Nikki Roper was a "snitch".

He gained the trust of Roper by tattooing him, planning the attack for months. On a day in December last year, he lured Roper to his cell - out of the gaze of the CCTV cameras - under the guise of more tattooing.

"Mr Williams used two fluorescent light tubes to stab the victim twice in the neck, prior to putting him in a choke hold. He then stomped on his head and attacked the victim with a broom. Once that broom broke, he then attempted to stab the victim in the neck with the broken point of that broom," Mr McColgan said.

He said Williams has 96 previous convictions, 16 of them for violence.

Williams told authorities he intended to keep harming people until he got the sentence he believed he deserved for Coral's murder in 2003.

He declined Justice Toogood's invitation for a lawyer or legal advice.

When the judge asked him if there was anything he would like to say, Williams responded: "Nah, just want to get sentenced and get out of here."

Williams had a violent childhood with a history of substance abuse that began when he was just 10 years old, the judge said.

"You have a history of substance abuse, for which you have never received proper treatment. A methamphetamine binge featured prominently in the terrible killing of your step-daughter. Your use of methamphetamine has severely impaired your ability to maintain relationships, it has alienated those close to you and I do not doubt that it has contributed to an escalation in your violent behaviour."

Williams also has a conviction for stabbing a fellow prisoner in the neck with a sharpened toothbrush.

Justice Toogood said Williams' attack on Roper left him with a 30cm gash in his neck, requiring 34 staples, and a broken eye socket.

"You admitted planning the attack for months, making it clear that you intended to kill Mr Roper and you said you could not believe he was still alive. Indeed, you expressed regret and disappointment that he did not die."

Violence had become the norm for Williams and he had become institutionalised, the judge said.

"In your interview with the probation officer, you took some delight in describing yourself as the smiling assassin, meaning your future victims would not be aware of your intent to harm them until it happens."

He said Williams had a high-risk of re-offending and was a disturbed individual.

"You have been unable to persevere with counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder, following the murder of your step-daughter. I accept you feel a considerable level of guilt for that offending and that you have a desire to punish yourself by remaining in prison for the rest of your life."

Justice Toogood said Williams had told authorities he intended to kill again so he could remain in prison.

"I have to tell you, Mr Williams, you do not need to do that to achieve your objective of remaining incarcerated. A sentence of preventive detention, which I find must be imposed, means you will never be released until you are no longer a risk to community safety."

There was little reaction from Williams as he was led into the cells.