The Court of Appeal (Justice Weinberg, Justice Osborn and Justice Priest) today refused applications for leave to appeal against sentence by co-offenders Rodney Phillips (‘Phillips’) and Sam Liszczak (‘Liszczak’).

In July 2015, Phillips and Liszczak embarked on a criminal escapade involving shooting at and fire-bombing premises thought to be occupied by George Williams - father of notorious murderer and drug trafficker Carl Williams - and his widow, Roberta Williams. The escapade culminated in the applicants shooting at a police vehicle occupied by constables Benjamin Ashmole and Thomas Wospil in the course of evading apprehension, the single gunshot causing injury to Constable Benjamin Ashmole and placing Constable Wospil in danger of serious injury.

Both applicants pleaded guilty to reckless conduct endangering serious injury; recklessly causing injury; criminal damage; arson; two charges of attempted arson; theft of a motor vehicle; and being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm. Phillips was sentenced to a total effective sentence of eight years’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of six years and two months, whilst Liszczak was sentenced to a total effective sentence of seven years and 10 months’ imprisonment, upon which a non-parole period of six years was fixed.

The Court of Appeal rejected Phillips’ and Liszczack’s contention that the individual sentences of four years’ imprisonment imposed for the charges of recklessly causing injury to one officer and endangering serious injury of another, with cumulation of two years between those sentences, constituted error in the form of double punishment.

The Court also rejected the applicants’ claims that their sentences were manifestly excessive; particularly in light of the high objective seriousness of their offending and both applicants’ appalling criminal histories. It was further observed that the 12-month term of imprisonment imposed upon each applicant for the charge of being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm was inadequate.


NOTE:  This summary is necessarily incomplete.  It is not intended as a substitute for the Court’s reasons or to be used in any later consideration of the Court’s reasons.  The only authoritative pronouncement of the Court’s reasons and conclusions is that contained in the published reasons for judgment.

Read the Court's full judgment on AustLII (External link)

Supreme Court of Victoria
Supreme Court of Victoria
Date of Publication

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