Man spared further jail for nurse attack

Georgie Moore
·2-min read

A man who attacked a woman by grabbing her off a Melbourne street and dragging her into an alleyway has been spared further jail time.

Jackson Williams had been out all night partying when he grabbed the 39-year-old nurse from behind as she walked to work through the CBD early on October 28, 2018.

The 21-year-old was previously acquitted of attempted sexual assault, but found guilty of common assault.

He was sentenced in Victoria's County Court on Wednesday to a two-and-a-half-year community correction order.

Williams was also sentenced to 42 days' jail, but has already served that time in police custody following his arrest.

He launched his attack as his victim listened to music while walking to work at an inner-city hospital.

She screamed but Williams held his hand over her mouth, pushed her to the ground and got on top of her.

The attack lasted for 37 seconds before an off-duty police officer intervened.

"This was unquestionably a serious assault against an innocent woman who was walking peacefully to work," Judge Amanda Fox said.

"You used a significant degree of force to grab and restrain her and had the natural advantage of size and strength."

Last month, the judge concluded there was not enough evidence to prove Williams had intended to sexually assault the woman.

She hasn't been able to return to work and has moved away from Victoria because of the trauma.

"Your attack has had a profound, ongoing impact on her psychological wellbeing. What you did shattered her sense of confidence, security and safety," Judge Fox said.

Williams, then aged 19, fled the scene but later handed himself in to police because he recognised himself on CCTV footage distributed to news outlets.

He failed to offer any real explanation for the attack and said he couldn't remember it because he was drunk.

He has an IQ of 71 and has since completed a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program for Indigenous young people.

Since publicity around his trial, Williams has been subjected to racial abuse and violent threats on social media.

At one point, people armed with baseball bats attacked the home he shared with his grandparents.

"Public humiliation and harsh criticism are the consequences of your own actions," Judge Fox said.

But she found the public vitriol in this case went beyond that and amounted to extra-curial punishment.

"There is a reluctance to return a young first-time offender to jail when they have made significant progress in the community and caused no further harm," the judge said.

Williams must complete 200 hours of community work and has also been slapped with a six-month alcohol exclusion order, banning him from licensed premises between 10pm and 9am.