The self-confessed ‘straighty-one-eighty’ ex-wife of an NRL boss has revealed her nightmare life behind bars after serving two years in a maximum security prison.
Lisa Mottram, 54, was jailed for mowing down a family of four in her SUV while drunkenly texting late at night.
Overnight she went from hob-nobbing with Sydney‘s rich and famous as the wife of ex-Parramatta Eels boss Denis Fitzgerald, to sharing a cell with psychotic inmates.
And Mottram said nothing she saw in TV’s Wentworth or Orange Is The New Black could have prepared for the reality of life behind bars which left her at ‘rock bottom’.
‘Every day I’d cry myself to sleep. I’d wake up, I’d start crying again,’ she said. ‘It is very violent. There’s mould, sick, faeces everywhere.
‘It’s nothing that a TV show could portray. I was petrified, absolutely petrified.’
Lisa Mottram, the self-confessed ‘straighty-one-eighty’ ex-wife of former Parramtta Eels boss Denis Fitzgerald (pictured, together) has revealed her nightmare life behind bars in a maximum security prison
Lisa Mottram, 54, was jailed for mowing down a family of four in her SUV (pictured) while drunkenly texting late at night
Mottram ploughed into four Hong Kong tourists – a couple, a girl, 4, and another relative – about 9.30pm near her Kellyville home in Sydney’s north-west in 2018.
The girl suffered bleeding in her brain, a collapsed lung and ongoing seizures, and was flown home six weeks later in an unresponsive ‘minimally conscious state’.
A court heard Mottram had been drinking in a local pub since 3pm and was so drunk earlier in the night that she walked into a pole before she later got behind the wheel.
She was jailed for four years at Parramatta District Court in 2019, with a non-parole minimum of two years.
Mottram served most of those two years at the maximum security women’s prison at Dillwynia Correctional Centre in South Windsor in Sydney’s north-western outskirts.
Her life instantly changed as she swapped the designer dresses and fascinator hats she wore to ritzy horse races for the drab green uniform of prisoners.
Lisa Mottram’s life instantly changed as she swapped the designer dresses and fascinator hats she wore to ritzy horse races for the drab green uniform of prisoners
Lisa Mottram was jailed for four years at Parramatta District Court in 2019, with a non-parole minimum of two years, served mostly at maximum security Dillwynia women’s jail in Sydney
BOOZE BINGE THAT LED TO TRAGEDY
Lisa Mottram had been drinking at The Fiddler in northwest Sydney since 3pm with CCTV showing her staggering through the pub and walking into a pole at 6.37pm.
About five minutes later, a friend drove Mottram home to Winning Street in Kellyville.
She then left home at 9.19pm to make a 29-minute drive to meet a boyfriend in South Windsor after texting him throughout the afternoon.
After twice swerving and correcting her vehicle, Mottram collided with the Hong Kong family on Hezlett Road, leaving them all unconscious.
She had been texting while driving moments before the collision.
Mottram recorded a blood alcohol reading of 0.113 two hours after the collision and later told police she had set out to buy a pack of cigarettes from a shop on Hezlett Road.
Mottram showed a ‘high level of moral culpability’ when she drove into Kei Cheung Tang, 45, his wife Man Pui Chan, 44, the four-year-old and Tang’s 55-year-old sister, Sui Yin, Judge Justin Smith said.
The former hairdresser wept in Parramatta District Court as she was jailed for four years with a non-parole period of two years.
Mottram pleaded guilty to two counts of dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm and two counts of causing actual bodily harm by misconduct.
Judge Justin Smith said while Mottram had suffered mental health problems following the breakdown of her marriage with Denis Fitzgerald in 2017, ‘that does not lessen her moral culpability in any way.’
‘Drinking excessively is not a crime,’ Judge Smith told the court.
‘It was the decision to drive while intoxicated, text while driving and continue to do so even after swerving that lie at the heart of her culpability.’
On her first night, she admitted she was on the brink of suicide after she was made to share a cell with a bikie gang member.
‘It was overwhelming, very overwhelming,’ Mottram told former homicide detective Gary Jubelin’s I Catch Killers podcast.
‘And just the way the officers made you feel like you’re the scum of the earth.
‘It was filthy and people coming down off drugs, yelling abuse – I had not been around people who take drugs before.
‘I had no idea about hardcore drugs and the comedown.
‘I spent that first night with a woman with tattoos all over her body. She wasn’t talkative, she was bikie affiliated – and I didn’t sleep.’
She wept relentlessly and blubbed that she wanted to kill herself before she was moved to an observation cell and kept under brightly-lit CCTV surveillance 24×7.
‘I spent a week in a cell there by myself with the lights and the cameras on me,’ she said.
‘You’re tired. You’re exhausted. I just bawled my eyes out. It wasn’t my world.’
Prison staff offered to put Mottram under protection because of her privileged background and for fear of possible revenge attacks for the appalling crime which put her in jail but she refused.
‘They were worried about people standing over me, threatening me, taking my food,’ she said.
‘I didn’t even understand what protection was. But at the time I said no, I’m going to be treated like everybody else. And I stood firm on that.’
But she was horrified by the level of violence and drug abuse she saw in the jail.
‘You have schoolyard arguments but it’s nothing like that,’ she said. ‘It’s horrendous.
‘You see people slap in movies and on TV shows, but in there it was busted faces.
‘There are women that come in and out that are hated by other women.
‘And if they’re in there together, and they’ve butted heads before, they’re going to butt heads again.
‘I really wasn’t sure at first why you get given a plate, a mug and a bowl – and then you have plastic cutlery.
‘It didn’t take too long to realise that if we had metal forks and knives, these women would kill again.’
Every day, the inmates would line up for the ‘pill parade’, she said, with many then secretly trading away their prescription medication.
Lisa Mottram had been drinking at The Fiddler in northwest Sydney since 3pm with CCTV showing her staggering through the pub and walking into a pole at 6.37pm before the crash
Lisa Mottram said nothing she saw in TV’s Wentworth or Orange Is The New Black could have prepared for the reality of life behind bars at maximum security Dillwynia women’s jail
‘People sell their tablets,’ she said. ‘And some of these girls are taking tablets that are not even prescribed to them and having psychotic episodes.’
At one stage she ended up sharing a cell with a dealer.
‘She also told me that she had psychotic episodes during the night – I slept with one eye open every night,’ Mottram admitted.
‘I was crumbling inside.’
Mottram said she was wracked by guilt over the accident but also shattered at the dramatic change in her life which left her with no control over anything, making her suicidal.
‘I had nothing in there – no photos of my family, not sure when I’d be able to talk to them,’ she said.
‘And I I was worried that something would happen to my mum and dad health-wise, so there was the guilt of that as well.
‘There was nobody professional to talk to about what I was thinking and going through.
‘I was thinking of my own selfish reasons and ending my life, not thinking about everybody else that it would have an impact on.’
The drama of fictional Wentworth prison (pictured) was compared to the ‘petrifying’ day-to-day terror Lisa Mottram endured inside maximum security Dillwynia Correctional Centre
Lisa Mottram said she was shocked by the brutal violence behind bars and the drug abuse
She said she vowed to keep her head down and learn how to cope with her new life while she tried to spot someone from a similar background she could connect with.
‘I just had to take a chance that if somebody said hello to me, I could say hello back,’ she said.
‘Women in there for fraud who would be like me – a straighty-one-eighty who is not used to this.’
But the experience forced her to transform everything about herself.
‘I learned very fast that I had to change the person I was just to survive in there,’ she said.
‘We are all in there because of something that we’ve done. So I had to definitely change my whole outlook and maybe come to that level where they are.
‘I had to dig deeper into my soul and change the way I spoke, how I acted, just to be able to communicate.’
She said there was no support for inmates to help them through prison life, especially among the guards.
‘There was no help, no professional help.,’ she said. ‘I’ve seen girls angrier than what they’ve ever been because there’s no support
‘There were some really nice officers but for the majority… I have never ever been spoken to the way that they spoke to anybody who was in green.
‘I was a bit vocal. I’m the sort of person that if I speak to you, you show me respect. I’ll give you respect back.
‘I did turn round and and say, “You know, we all s*** out of the same hole. I’m here. I’ve been judged. Please don’t make my time any harder. I’m at rock bottom.”‘
The reality of life inside prison went way beyond what was portrayed in Orange Is The New Black (pictured), said Mottram. ”It’s nothing that a TV show could portray,’ she added.
Lisa Mottram slammed the lack of support and the way she was treated by prison officers
Mottram finally found a friend who she shared accommodation with inside and helped make life ‘tolerable’ until she was released in November 2021.
Her ex-husband, who split with her the year before the tragic accident, picked her up from jail, but months later she’s still struggling to adapt to normal life again.
‘Dennis had a bigger car. I needed that room to hide,’ Mottram said. ‘The feeling of freedom was overwhelming.
‘I feel like I’m stuck at the moment. I know I have to move forward but I can’t concentrate. I pick up a book, I start to read it. And then I’m reading the same paragraph seven times.
‘I watch TV. I’m not really watching it. I’m just watching people talk on TV.’
She said she’s so used to confined areas she no longer feels comfortable going for a long walk outside or even changing her clothes.
After being limited to one pair of green shorts, three green shirts, a pair of tracksuit pants, one pair of shoes and a sloppy joe, she now only wears a few jumpers.
‘There were days that I wore the same clothes, because that’s what I was used to,’ she said. Just having sugar and fresh fruit were luxuries compared to her prison life.
But she said the accident and its aftermath had cost her some of her closest friends.
‘Some have looked at me very differently,’ she said. ‘I’ve lost friends, dear friends.
‘But the majority of them have said, “You know you you’ve done your time. Give yourself a break” – but I haven’t.
Lisa Mottram, seen here with her parents outside court in 2018, said she’s still wracked by guilt, shame and remorse but also wants to warn others of the real-life consequences of drink driving and their actions
‘If I’m having a bad day, it’s because I deserve it. I’d like to think that I could forgive myself but I don’t see that happening.
‘It’s just what I have to do – learn how to cope with me now. I’m doing my best to be in a normal world, but every day is a struggle. It’s literally one day at a time.’
She said she’s still wracked by guilt, shame and remorse but also wants to warn others of the real-life consequences of drink-driving and their actions
‘I need for people to really learn from my story,’ she added. ‘We’ve had education on drink-driving. We’ve all sat back and known somebody who has done it.
‘But it isn’t just the fact you’re going to get pulled over and you might lose your licence. That is nothing. Nothing.
‘For all the people that think, “That won’t happen to me” – it does. It happens. And it ruins your life and the people who you have affected.’