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Cobargo man sentenced over police siege. 'Fell through cracks' of mental health system, lawyer says

A 41-year-old New South Wales man has been sentenced to at least a year behind bars after a siege with police caused a Far South Coast town to go into lockdown.

Samuel Robert Doolin told his mother he loved her before he was sentenced in Bega Local Court today to three years in prison with a non-parole period of 12 months, after pleading guilty to a string of charges relating to the siege in Cobargo in June.

"I love you mother, I’m sorry," Doolin told the court via video link.

The court heard Doolin admitted to taking part in the siege with police on June 27, despite having no recollection of it.

The court heard the siege was triggered by an argument with his sister over a dead pig on the family property, during which Doolin, who was experiencing paranoia, "lost all blood pressure".

Doolin pleaded guilty to eight charges, including using an offensive instrument to avoid apprehension, two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm relating to his mother and sister, and intimidating a police officer.

Magistrate Doug Dick told the court Doolin had 67 previous convictions in NSW and Queensland for offences relating to violence, drugs and community safety.

"These matters are so serious," he told the court.

The court heard Doolin had no memory of pushing his mother to the ground and causing her severe injuries, and that his recollections of the siege were "very sketchy".

'Slipped through' mental health system

Doolin's lawyer Ines Chiumento has told the court that her client, who lives with schizophrenia, "slipped through the cracks" of the mental health system.

She told the court her client's mental health began to deteriorate in August last year and that his mother unsuccessfully attempted to have him treated by the public health care system.

"If things were put in place, we may not be in court today," Ms Chiumento told the court

The court heard that Doolin started to act aggressively last year and was experiencing hallucinations after not always taking his medication.

Ms Chiumento told the court Doolin was assessed by mental health workers "through a closed door" at his home where he lived with his mother due to his mental health issues and tendency to "hibernate".

Magistrate Dick told the court that Doolin would be a danger to others if his mental health issues remained untreated.

He told the court he had intended to seek compensation from Doolin for the financial cost of the siege, which saw the town and surrounding area put into police lockdown for the best part of a day.

However, police prosecutors were unable to provide the court with a dollar amount for emergency service resources deployed on the day.

Magistrate Dick backdated Doolin's sentence to the day of the siege. This means he can be released on parole in June of next year.

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