A Byron Bay woman has been sentenced for assaulting her cellmate at Grafton jail.
A Byron Bay woman has been sentenced for assaulting her cellmate at Grafton jail.

Woman jailed for assaulting inmate, bashing sister-in-law

A Byron Bay woman has been jailed for assaulting her cellmate during a fight over tobacco, and the unprovoked assault of her sister-in-law at her Goonellabah home last year.

Rita Williams appeared in Grafton Local Court on Tuesday where she was sentenced after pleading guilty to reckless wounding and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The court heard that in August 2019 the 37-year-old was an inmate of 5 Wing at Grafton Correctional Centre, and in the week prior to the reckless wounding had made an agreement that her cellmate would supply Williams with small amounts of tobacco.

According to court documents, about 1.30pm on August 16 the victim was lying in her bed when Williams entered the cell and asked for more tobacco. The victim told Williams she didn't have any and said "you shouldn't have asked me for more 'cause (sic) you haven't given me what you said you would".

The court heard Williams said "I'm sick of you being such a smart arse" and punched the victim to the left side of the face, causing a 2cm laceration on the victim's cheek.

Court documents reveal the victim attended the guard post where she was taken to the clinic and assessed, before transported to Grafton Base Hospital where she received four stitches.

The following year on August 4 Williams entered the Goonellabah home of her sister-in-law, told her "stop talking s--- about me" and punched her in the face. A witness entered the room and pushed Williams out, who left the premises without further incident.

In court on Tuesday Williams' solicitor Jason Hatch said his client had an extensive history as a victim of family violence in her early years, as well as drug and alcohol dependence as a coping mechanism, and had spent the five out of the last 16 years in custody largely as a result of unresolved drug issues.

Magistrate Kathy Crittenden found special circumstances with Williams' medical issues and the ongoing need for rehabilitation for her drug and alcohol issues, but ultimately decided that no sentence other than full-time imprisonment was appropriate to reflect the harm done to the victims.

Williams was convicted and sentenced to 12 months behind bars, with a non-parole period of six months to date from November 14, 2020.

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