Scalding water attack in women’s prison

File image. © Andrew Bardwell
File image. © Andrew Bardwell

A rare second-strike warning has been given to a woman prisoner who tossed a bucket of scalding water over another woman inmate, causing skin to peel off.

It means that 27-year-old Amelia Rongomai Hill will serve a long prison term without parole or early release. If she ever offends again she will get the maximum jail term and no parole.

Hill appeared before Judge Paul Kellar in the Christchurch District Court today and pleaded guilty to a charge of wounding the other woman inmate with reckless disregard for her safety.

Judge Kellar gave her the second-strike warning and remanded her in custody – she remains a serving prisoner – to October 30 for sentence. He asked for a pre-sentence report.

Hill got her first-strike warning when she was jailed in the Auckland District Court in 2010 with a three year eight month sentence for aggravated robbery.

Her latest offence occurred in Wing 2 at Christchurch Women’s Prison on July 16.

Hill took a bucket from her cell and filled it with scalding water from the Zip water heater in the servery.

She then carried the bucket to the victim’s cell, went inside, and threw the water over the victim without warning. The scalding water hit the woman’s right arm, neck, stomach, and right leg above the knee.

Hill told her: “Next time, I’ll kill you.”

She then ran back to her own cell and stood in the corridor outside in a defiant posture.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Paul Scott told the court: “The victim also left her cell. As the very hot water was burning her skin, she stripped off her sweat top and t-shirt. She saw that the skin was beginning to peel off her arm.”

The two women continued to exchange abuse in the corridor and Hill began to advance again before Corrections staff intervened and locked her in her cell.

Hill said she threw the scalding water because the victim had sent some photographs that were precious to her out of the prison. Also, she said the victim had been “talking shit” about Hill and her prison wife.

The victim was in severe pain with first degree (superficial) burns to her face, neck, stomach, left arm, and right leg above the knee, but more serious second degree burns to her right forearm.

The three-strikes system came into force in 2010, imposing heavier penalties on repeat violent offenders. As of last month, 2784 people around New Zealand had been given first-strike warnings, and 20 had received a second-strike.

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