Woman admits assault in prison

Other inmates also charged

A female inmate at Fairbanks Prison was conditionally discharged for common assault after admitting throwing water at a fellow prisoner last year. Two other inmates face charges in relation to the incident. 

The victim had been in custody at the prison following her arrest in connection with machete attacks at Cafe del Sol and Burger King in downtown George Town.  

Details of the assault were aired in Summary Court on Thursday when inmate Judith Cassarea Lewis was sentenced for common assault. 

Setting out facts as they pertained to Lewis, Crown Counsel Aaliyah McCarthy said there were more than 15 inmates in custody on the date of the offense, May 11, 2014. It occurred some time after 6 p.m. during a recreation period. The victim had been locked up because of behavior issues. Hot water was thrown on her, causing burns to various parts of her body.  

The officer investigating the matter was able to ascertain that three women had thrown water on the victim. 

Lewis admitted throwing cold water. The reason given was that the victim had been making life miserable with her erratic behavior. 

Lewis and others were subsequently charged and she pleaded guilty on Jan. 20. The cases of the two other women have not yet been dealt with at court. 

Magistrate Philippa McFarlane-Ebanks invited the defendant to speak in mitigation, since she did not have legal representation.  

Lewis said the victim had come into the prison on drugs. “She put us through a nightmare that can’t be explained,” she said.  

She asserted that every person in the prison “threw water on her to calm her down.” Some was hot water, some was hot water with bleach, some was hot water with bleach and butter, Lewis elaborated. 

The magistrate said Lewis should just tell the court what she had done, not what others did. 

“I just threw cold water – that’s it,” the defendant replied. 

The magistrate indicated a concern for Lewis’s attitude toward the offense. “I cannot imagine in what universe you think it would be helpful to throw water on her,” she commented. 

Lewis said she had apologized to the victim, whom she had known for a long time. The victim had been close to Lewis’s family some years ago and had even stayed with them, she indicated. 

“My actions were stupid,” she acknowledged, but she said she had been getting no sleep for some time because of the victim’s loud behavior. 

Asked why she did not complain to prison authorities, she said she and others did complain but they were ignored. “It wasn’t appropriate, but ….” 

The magistrate interrupted her. “There are no buts. Stop right there. You were frustrated. She was going through challenges of her own.” 

Lewis agreed. “I take full responsibility for what I did. We spoke and I helped her out a lot.”  

She added that the inmates had a session with the chaplain and a psychologist about the incident. 

In passing sentence, the magistrate noted that Lewis’s convictions were completely unrelated to any violence. “You are obviously a very intelligent woman. I hope you make the best use of opportunities in the future,” she said. 

Hearing that Lewis was due for release on Jan. 30, the magistrate said she would conditionally discharge her on the basis that she is not to commit any offense of any kind over the next 12 months. If she does, she will be brought back for sentence on this matter. 

What the court really wants, Magistrate McFarlane-Ebanks said, is for Lewis not to commit another offense for the rest of her life, but in regard to this assault, “you have to stay out of trouble for the next 12 months.”  

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