30 days for hot water assault

Woman admits throwing hot water on another inmate

Fairbanks Prison inmate Nathania Rachel Chollette had 30 days added to her current sentence last Thursday for assaulting another inmate by throwing hot water on her. 

Chollette, 27, was initially charged with wounding or causing grievous bodily harm. She had always admitted throwing the hot water, but denied those charges. Instead, she pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of assault causing actual bodily harm and the Crown accepted that plea. 

Reports in the Cayman Compass shortly after the incident on Sunday, May 11, 2014, indicated that the victim received burns to her left hand and forearm. She was taken to hospital, treated and returned to Fairbanks. Another report stated that the water had been heated in a microwave oven in the facility’s common room.  

At the sentencing hearing last Thursday, Crown counsel Aaliyah McCarthy provided further details. She said the incident occurred around 6 p.m. and involved a “mentally challenged” inmate who was locked in her cell because of her disruptive behavior. Chollette was one of several women accused of throwing water on her and causing burns to various parts of her body.  

Defense attorney John Furniss said the victim was having one her bad spells, being extremely disruptive and loud. Judges and magistrates presiding in the various courtrooms would have heard her in the court cells on more than one occasion, he remarked. 

In the Fairbanks incident, other persons were involved but Chollette was the only one who accepted it was hot water that was thrown, Mr. Furniss said. The inmates had been provoked, but that obviously was not a defense, he agreed. 

He told Magistrate Philippa McFarlane that Chollette had served a substantial part of a 32-month sentence for burglary and she would be eligible to be considered for parole in October or November this year. She was now showing greater maturity and a better attitude, he concluded. 

The magistrate said she was encouraged by the attorney’s mitigation and a social inquiry report. She took note of Chollette’s forthrightness: “Out of everybody, you were the only one who put your hand up and said ‘Yes, I did it and it was wrong.’” 

She referred to the defendant’s expression of remorse and admission that she wouldn’t like anyone to do to her what she had done. 

But throwing hot water on someone experiencing challenges was a completely inappropriate response, she told Chollette: “You went too far.” 

For that reason, the sentence of 30 days had to be consecutive to the term she was currently serving, the magistrate said. 

Another unrelated charge was threatening to kill a police officer when Chollette got upset after an interview in relation to the burglaries. Mr. Furniss said she had instructed him to apologize for this behavior. The magistrate imposed a term of seven days, concurrent. 

In relation to the incident at the prison, one woman was sentenced in January after admitting she threw water on the inmate, but insisted it was cold water. This defendant advised the court that all of the inmates had a session with a chaplain and a psychologist afterwards. 

On hearing that her release date was in another 10 days, Magistrate McFarlane decided to conditionally discharge her on the basis that she not commit any offense of any kind over the next 12 months. If she did, she would be brought back for sentencing on this matter. 

A third woman charged in connection with the incident has not yet been dealt with. She is still in custody and has been attending the monthly mental health court.