The Liberty service station on Centre St in Casino, which the men targeted in an early-morning robbery.
The Liberty service station on Centre St in Casino, which the men targeted in an early-morning robbery. Hamish Broome

'Terrified' servo worker 'thought he was going to be killed'

A JUDGE sentencing men over a service station robber has said their acts of violence were "simply not necessary".

Tyler Samuel Williams, 30, his brother Tyrone Timothy Williams, 24, and Leonard Charles Langford Baker, 46, will spend years behind bars for a robbery at Casino's Liberty service station on March 25 last year.

The trio were each sentenced for robbery in company before Lismore District Court on Friday.

The plan to rob the petrol station was hatched while the men were at a party the night before, drinking and using the drug ice.

Ken Whitton, who was working alone at the station the following morning, unlocked the door at 6.58am and the Williams brothers and 21-year-old Denzel Walker immediately rushed in.

They had covered their faces and Tyrone was carrying a large pole.

Unbeknownst to the other men, Walker was carrying a knife which he ultimately used to slash the victim's face.

Baker was waiting in a nearby vehicle with a passenger, Tyrall Cowan, 23.

Walker was sentenced earlier this year to seven years' prison, four years of that without parole, form armed robbery causing wounding while Cowan will next month be sentenced for being an accessory after the fact.

Inside the petrol station, Tyler was unarmed but was the first to attack the victim, punching him to the head, although he downplayed this in his evidence to the court as an open-handed push.

Mr Whitton was also threatened with the pole and ultimately managed to grab it, using it to fend off the men as Tyler took $650 from the till.

The Williams and Walker fled, leaving the getaway car unused.

All five men later met up and travelled to Grafton, then to Coraki.

The court heard they spent the money on alcohol and gambling.

In his first statement to police, Tyler claimed he'd seen the robbery in progress but wasn't involved, while his brother denied any involvement.

Baker made admissions early on and acknowledged he was aware of at least one pole being used, the court heard.

While none of the men sentenced this week were culpable for Walker's use of the knife, Judge Julia Baly echoed the sentiments of Judge Wells - who sentenced Walker - saying it was "inexplicable there was a physical attack on Mr Whitton", given how vulnerable and outnumbered he was.

"Unsurprisingly, Mr Whitton was terrified at the thought he was going to be killed," Judge Baly said.

"Sadly, he has not been able to work since.

"This victim was clearly vulnerable."

The court heard Mr Whitton was still dealing with the psychological injuries that arose from the incident.

Baker's criminal record had involved acts of violence but nothing of a similar nature to the robbery, and the court heard of his troubled background, including severe poly-substance use disorder and mental illness.

Judge Baly said she accepted Baker, who sat with his head in his hands for most of the sentencing hearing and was distressed when the CCTV footage was played, was "genuinely remorseful for being involved in this robbery".

She acknowledged all men had experienced deprivation and disadvantage in their upbringings, including at the Box Ridge Aboriginal community near Coraki, where Baker and Tyler both lived for some time in childhood.

The court was shown part of a 1961 ABC Four Corners documentary which detailed overcrowding and ill health in the community.

The court heard Tyrone had been consuming the drug ice daily - to the value of about $500 a week - in the lead-up to the robbery while his brother consumed the drug for the first time at the party.

Judge Baly said the incident was "a plain and violent grab for money".

"I, like Judge Wells, can't understand why the offenders acted so violently toward Mr Whitton," she said.

"Violence was simply not necessary in order to steal the money."

Judge Baly found Baker had experienced the "most profound deprivation" of the three men, followed by Tyler - who was born at Box Ridge -and Tyrone.

She sentenced Baker and Tyrone Williams each to five years and eight months' prison, with their non-parole periods ending in November and August 2021 respectively.

Tyler Williams - who was only taken into custody on September 30 - received six year's prison with a non-parole period of three years and 10 months.

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