A RAYMOND Terrace man who was a member of a violent gang that held up an East Maitland pub and a Williamtown fast food restaurant has been jailed for a maximum of nearly seven years in Newcastle District Court.
Luke William John Swain, 31, was on a good behaviour bond and not long out of jail on parole for two 2012 armed robberies on Port Stephens clubs when he and two other men, armed with a single-barrel shotgun, baseball bat and a large hunting knife, terrified staff at the Hunter River Hotel at East Maitland on December 5, 2016.
Six weeks later, the night of January 25, 2017, Swain and three other men - Nathan Colby, Tyrin Gay and a third man who cannot be identified - held up the Williamtown McDonald's restaurant, again armed with a shotgun, a baseball bat and a knife.
Swain pleaded guilty to two counts of armed robbery in company and on Friday was jailed for a maximum of six years and nine months, with a non-parole period of three years and nine months.
He will be eligible for parole in August, 2021.
Judge Roy Ellis said Swain and two other men entered the Hunter River Hotel at East Maitland, rounded up patrons and staff and raided the cash register.
One of the armed robbers hit a punter in the head and back with a baseball bat and the thieves stole purses from the female victims.
In total they made off with $3765, the court heard.
“That was a serious robbery,” Judge Ellis said. “Clearly the staff members were vulnerable.”
Meanwhile, Swain was armed with a machete, Gay, 18, had a shotgun, and Colby, 22, had a baseball bat when they filed into the nearly empty McDonald's restaurant at Williamtown late on the night of January 25, 2017.
The three men threatened staff, demanded they empty the registers and hand over their personal property and Colby smashed a staff member’s hand with the bat.
They made off with $3042, heading straight to a licensed premises at Mayfield where they poured the proceeds straight into poker machines.
But during the robbery, which left staff members “traumatised”, Gay’s balaclava slipped down, revealing his face. All three armed robbers were from nearby Raymond Terrace and two of the people in the restaurant immediately recognised Gay.
He was arrested on April 4 last year, while Colby and Swain were picked up by police in raids at Raymond Terrace a few days later.
Gay, who was serving an intensive corrections order and on a good behaviour bond at the time of the hold-up, pleaded guilty to armed robbery and possession of an unauthorised firearm and in Newcastle District Court in June was jailed for a maximum of four years and six months, with a non-parole period of two years and nine months. He will be eligible for parole in March, 2020.
Colby, who had a limited criminal record, but a history of drug abuse and problematic gambling, pleaded guilty to armed robbery and was jailed for a maximum of three years and nine months, with a non-parole period of two years and three months.
He will be eligible for release next year.
The fourth man, who drove the getaway car in the McDonald's robbery, was jailed for a maximum of two years and six months, with a non-parole period of one year and three months.