Transgender robber out on parole

Police at Sue Todd Antiques following a robbery at the store last week. Photo ODT
Williams targeted Sue Todd Antiques in 2017. Photo: ODT FILES
A transgender armed robber will be released on parole after having "particular difficulties" behind bars.

Shelley Lee Williams (42) was jailed for five years for a spree of offending - including the aggravated robberies of three Dunedin businesses - in June 2017.

At her first parole hearing in July, it was noted Williams had tested positive for drug use and had racked up several misconduct charges too.

Since then, however, she had been tested and found clear of drugs and panel convener Judge Phil Gittos said her behaviour in prison had improved.

Because Williams was considered unsuitable for group treatment with other female prisoners, there was little that could be offered to her in the way of rehabilitation.

"Ms Williams has particular difficulties in the prison setting being a transgender person," Judge Gittos said.

"The psychologist recommends that some one-on-one psychologist's treatment be pursued, and this could suitably be carried out in the community. We think that is a preferred option really for Ms Williams given the difficulties of the prison setting for her and for prison management, and overall we are satisfied that the risk is now sufficiently contained to admit of a grant of parole."

The slew of offences that resulted in her being locked up, began when she robbed a South Dunedin jeweller of $550 and threatened to shoot a man in the leg. A couple of weeks later, Williams targeted Sue Todd Antiques, then followed it soon after with the robbery of the Elgin Food Market, Mornington.

The police arrested Williams after raiding her Oamaru home.

They found clothing worn to commit the robberies neatly laid out in the bathroom. A coat was turned inside out to dry, gloves and a balaclava were draped over the bathtub, an overnight bag beneath them at the ready.

A plastic pistol Williams had used to threaten shopkeepers was on the floor of another room next to her nail polish.

Dotted around the property were notes that exposed her criminal intentions: "Rob = shops and jewel store. Heavy gold chains & bangles, diamonds etc," she wrote.

"Go in & don't speak. Just hand a note & point gun."

The psychologist assessed Williams - who has more than 60 convictions to her name - as a low risk of general reoffending but a moderate risk of violent reoffending, and a moderate reintegrative risk.

Special conditions of her release included:

• Not to possess alcohol or drugs, attend a hearing with the Parole Board in January 2020, attend an alcohol and drug assessment and recommended treatment, attend a 9pm-6am curfew for first six months, and, live at an approved address.

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