11 Feb 2020

Recidivist offender back behind bars

3:51 pm on 11 February 2020

By Rob Kidd of the Otago Daily Times.

Two months after being released on parole, Shelley Lee Williams went on a drunken Dunedin crime spree that involved shoplifting, a racist rant, wild driving and squeezing a police officer's genitals.

Repeat armed robber Shelley Williams (43) is back behind bars after a brief period on parole.

Repeat armed robber Shelley Williams (43) is back behind bars after a brief period on parole. Photo: Supplied / Otago Daily Times

The 43-year-old made headlines in 2017 when she was unmasked as the person behind a string of armed heists in Dunedin.

First, Williams robbed a South Dunedin jeweller of $550 and threatened to shoot a man in the leg, then a couple of weeks later, she targeted Sue Todd Antiques, followed by the Elgin Food Market in Mornington.

Among that was also the attempted robbery of an Ashburton antiques dealer who tackled her to the ground and chased her off.

Williams was jailed for five years and despite having two years of that sentence left to serve, the Parole Board decided she could be safely released.

Despite dozens of previous convictions, a psychologist assessed her as a low risk of reoffending.

Panel convener Judge Phil Gittos noted that for a transgender woman, serving a sentence at a women's prison came with "particular difficulties".

Williams' taste of freedom was short-lived.

On 11 October, she drove her BMW from her home in Oamaru to Dunedin and began a rampage that lasted more than six hours.

Williams' first stop was Farmers in the CBD.

After 30 minutes' browsing, she filled a basket with 33 items of clothing, handbags and a cushion - worth a total of $1900 - and simply walked out without paying.

Several hours later, the parolee went to the Southern Cross Hotel where she claimed to have a booking.

That was a lie but staff said she could pay for a room.

When all Williams' bank cards failed she launched a foul-mouthed racist tirade and smashed a donation box on the floor.

Staff followed her to her vehicle, witnessing her take off at speed and smash through the barrier arm of the car park while sounding her horn.

Williams drove through red lights and tail-gated other motorists, prompting a flurry of calls to police.

But there was still time for more crime.

Williams ditched her car in the Leviathan Hotel car park and wandered down to Countdown supermarket.

After stashing wine and food in her bag and attempting to walk out, she was confronted by workers.

The duty manager asked for the goods back but Williams repeatedly denied being a thief.

Her mood turned to rage when the employee photographed her with a phone.

Williams first threatened to shoot the victim then started kicking at her.

As the woman put out her hand to protect herself, one of the blows cut and dislocated her finger.

Police found Williams in the car park "intoxicated and unco-operative".

When breathalysed, she gave a reading of 1090mcg of alcohol per litre of breath - more than four times the legal limit.

The bad behaviour continued at the station.

While being processed, Williams grabbed the genitals of a constable "and squeezed", court documents said.

"The defendant then apologised saying she must have done this because the constable was cute."

When informed she was being recalled to prison, Williams pounded walls and splattered blood around the area.

She also had time to break a computer mouse before being restrained.

Williams pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, assaulting police, aggravated drink-driving and two counts of shoplifting.

She will be sentenced at the Christchurch District Court next month.

Nearly 1900 people were granted parole in the year 2018-19. Less than a quarter of them were recalled to prison.

- This story was first published on the Otago Daily Times website.