Plan to rob Casino servo was 'destined for doom'
A GROUP'S plan to rob a Northern Rivers service station was "almost destined for doom", a court has heard.
Tyler Samuel Williams, 30, his brother Tyrone Timothy Williams, 24, and Denzel Walker, 21, entered the Liberty service station on Centre St, Casino, about 7am on March 25 last year.
Mr Walker had a knife and Tyrone Williams was wielding a pole, but his brother was first to assault the lone employee, Ken Whitton, with a punch to the head.
Leonard Charles Langford Baker, 46, and Tyrall Cowan, 23, were waiting nearby.
The Williams brothers and Baker faced Lismore District Court for a sentencing hearing on Monday.
Those three men pleaded guilty to robbery in company on June 24 and a trial, in which they were expected to defend more serious charges, was vacated.
Walker - who stabbed Mr Whitton with a knife and pleaded guilty to armed robbery causing wounding - was sentenced in March to seven years' prison.
He's not eligible for parole until March 2022 while Cowan is scheduled to be sentenced for being an accessory after the fact on November 1.
The court heard all three men, who made unsuccessful plea offers earlier on in the case, had been exposed to deprivation and disadvantaged backgrounds.
Mr Baker's barrister, Megan Cusack, played to the court part of a 1961 documentary by the ABC's Four Corners program on the Aboriginal reserve at Box Ridge, near Casino.
The video included accounts of the community's overcrowding and rampant illnesses at the time.
It didn't detail any presence of substance abuse, but Tyler - who was born there - told the court alcohol and drug use and domestic violence were common in the community.
He said the housing had improved but "everything else, the lifestyle, is still the same".
He told the court he was "very sorry" for his actions and wanted to apologise to Mr Whitton, although his bail conditions had prohibited him from entering Casino.
"It's the first time ever touched drugs that night, I just didn't know what I was doing or where I was," he said.
"That night I took ice and that's where it led me to. I'm very sorry."
As the oldest of the three men who entered the business during the robbery, the prosecutor asked Tyler whether he'd suggested the plan, or led the way once they were inside.
Mr Williams, who was the one who retrieved the money from the till, said this was not the case
His barrister, Gemunu Kumarasinhe, conceded it was "a major offence" but stressed his client's "impoverished background" and asked that his prison term might be "not crushing".
He agreed it was clear his client "went for the till" and struck the victim.
Ms Cusack conceded Baker was "not an offender with little or no criminal history" but argued there was "a limited degree of planning involved".
"He was drinking, smoking ice to a significant degree," she said.
"It would be difficult for him to have (been involved in) any real planning.
"His role as the getaway driver wasn't even used."
The court heard he met up with the other men back at a house, where they had attended a party before the robbery.
Ms Cusack told the court family issues in the lead-up to the incident affected her client deeply and he "spiralled into a downward abyss".
She told the court Baker suffered from "some significant mental health issues" which had "made his time in custody more onerous".
Tyrone Walker's solicitor, Cameron Bell, accepted his client was wielding the pole as they entered the shop.
At one point Mr Whitton approached Tyrone and ultimately wrestled the pole from him.
Mr Bell told the court his client was "probably at a more significant disadvantage then a number of the other co-accused", citing his cognitive impairment.
In his closing submissions, the Crown prosecutor said Mr Whitton had not been able to return to work since the robbery.
He said the incident was serious in that there was actual violence inflicted upon the victim.
The court heard DNA matching that of Tyrone and Mr Whitton were found on the pole that was used during the robbery.
He said the Four Corners clip depicted "abject poverty" but was "obviously from an earlier time ... in social history".
But he accepted subjective factors including disadvantage and deprivation marked the upbringing of the men before the court.
Judge Baly is expected to sentence the Williams brothers and Baker on Friday.