Hostage-taker given 5 years for crime spree

BEHIND BARS: Eric Fing, pictured after his arrest in Tamworth in January last year, won’t be eligible for parole until September 2018. Photo: Gareth Gardner 070115GGC03

BEHIND BARS: Eric Fing, pictured after his arrest in Tamworth in January last year, won’t be eligible for parole until September 2018. Photo: Gareth Gardner 070115GGC03

THE man who took a Tamworth woman hostage in her own home during a siege to escape police has been jailed for more than five years.

Eric Lance Fing was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison for a crime spree spanning from Murrurundi to Tamworth, which ended when police stormed a Susanne St unit after a siege that lasted more than four hours.

In December, a jury found Fing guilty of detaining 71-year-old Betty O’Dell to gain advantage, namely to avoid apprehension, on January 7 last year, after he stormed the home and barricaded the door shut to escape police.

On Wednesday, Judge Robert Toner sentenced Fing in Taree District Court on 10 offences.

They included two counts of police pursuit, taking a conveyance without consent, driver never licensed, detaining a person for advantage and maliciously destroying the unit.

Fing, who has been behind bars since the siege, trashed the inside of Mrs O’Dell’s unit, putting holes in the wall and blood on the floor.

During his trial, the court was told Fing was under the influence of ice and oxycontin when he engaged police in a pursuit, before stealing a car in Murrurundi and leading officers on a chase into Tamworth.

He crashed the utility in Robert St and fled from several police into Mrs O’Dell’s home, which triggered the standoff with officers.

Police managed to pull Mrs O’Dell through a window to safety just minutes after Fing barricaded them in the unit.

Specialist tactical officers backed trained OSG police and negotiators who stormed the unit to arrest Fing several hours later.

He was on parole at the time of the offending, and the sentencing hearing had been adjourned several times to allow Fing’s defence team to obtain specialist medical reports.

In the sentencing hearing, Judge Toner imposed the aggregate sentence of five years and six months, with a minimum non-parole period of three years and four months.

He partially backdated the sentence to May last year, meaning Fing won’t be eligible for parole until September 2018.

During his trial, Fing was found not guilty of entering the Susanne St unit with intent to commit a serious indictable offence, namely intending to steal car keys, in circumstances of aggravation.

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