Lindt Café Siege 2014

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Lindt Café Siege 2014

The Lindt Café siege was a terrorist attack that took place over 17 hours on 15–16 December 2014. Man Haron Monis, armed with a shotgun, walked into the bustling Lindt Café in Martin Place and took 18 customers and staff hostage. In addition to the gun, Monis claimed that a bomb was hidden in his backpack as well as two other bombs in Circular Quay and George Street.[1] The hostages were forced to stand in the windows of the café with their hands up, with some holding a copy of the Islamic shahada flag. Tori Johnson, the manager of the Lindt café, was coached by Monis in the first of many 000 and media calls ordered by the gunman. Johnson relayed Monis’ demands to the call centre, resulting in an enormous police response and the widespread panic of Sydney’s Central Business District. In the hours that followed, four groups of hostages managed to escape. The standoff between Monis and police ended when Tactical Operations Unit teams rushed the café at 2:12am in the morning. By that time, Tori Johnson had already been shot by the gunman.[2] A second hostage, Katrina Dawson, died from wounds sustained during the police operation. Manis himself was shot by police, with the alleged bombs revealed to be fakes.

[media]An inquest into the deaths at the Lindt Café siege was established by State Coroner Michael Barnes in 2015, opening only six weeks after the attack. This was a highly unusual inquest in many ways, notably the televised opening by the coroner himself on 29 January 2015. Barnes explained that his opening remarks were made in as public a manner as possible to dispel any misinformation or inaccuracies circulating in the media and to reassure the community that the attack was being properly investigated.[3]

The marathon inquest required the efforts of thirty-six police officers, who took 1130 statements over 110 sitting days at the Glebe Coroners Court. 118 witnesses were called, with the total evidence brief recorded as a staggering 68,399 pages.[4] Coroner Barnes found that Tori Johnson died immediately from a gunshot wound to the head, with Katrina Dawson dying in hospital from mortal wounds sustained from accidental bullet ricochets.[5] The final report included highly emotional testimonies of Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson’s families, which Barnes included as a testament to the lost potential of their lives.

The inquest found that police waited too long to enter the café, relying on ‘flawed advice’ from negotiators and a consulting psychiatrist on Monis’ mental state.[6] Barnes also criticised the public speculation on the conduct of the hostages, especially towards those who had taken the opportunity to escape. The findings stated that ‘such speculation is unfair, unhelpful and above all invalid: no one can say how they would have reacted if placed in the hostages’ position’.[7] A total of 45 recommendations were made in Barnes’ findings, all of which were adopted.[8]

Notes

[1] State Coroner Michael Barnes, 2017. Inquest Into the Deaths Arising from the Lindt Café Siege (Glebe: Coroner’s Court of New South Wales), accessed 23 November 2020 http://www.lindtinquest.justice.nsw.gov.au/Documents/findings-and-recommendations.pdf

[2] State Coroner Michael Barnes, 2017. Inquest Into the Deaths Arising from the Lindt Café Siege (Glebe: Coroner’s Court of New South Wales), accessed 23 November 2020 http://www.lindtinquest.justice.nsw.gov.au/Documents/findings-and-recommendations.pdf

[3] State Coroner Michael Barnes, 2017. Inquest Into the Deaths Arising from the Lindt Café Siege (Glebe: Coroner’s Court of New South Wales), accessed 23 November 2020 http://www.lindtinquest.justice.nsw.gov.au/Documents/findings-and-recommendations.pdf

[4] ‘The Lindt Café inquest: by the numbers’, The Guardian, 24 May 2017, accessed 20 November 2020 https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2017/may/24/sydney-lindt-cafe-siege-inquest-coroner-delivers-his-findings-live

[5] ‘The Lindt Café inquest: live findings report’, The Guardian, 24 May 2017, accessed 20 November 2020 https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2017/may/24/sydney-lindt-cafe-siege-inquest-coroner-delivers-his-findings-live

[6] State Coroner Michael Barnes, 2017. Inquest Into the Deaths Arising from the Lindt Café Siege (Glebe: Coroner’s Court of New South Wales), accessed 23 November 2020 http://www.lindtinquest.justice.nsw.gov.au/Documents/findings-and-recommendations.pdf

[7] State Coroner Michael Barnes, 2017. Inquest Into the Deaths Arising from the Lindt Café Siege (Glebe: Coroner’s Court of New South Wales), accessed 23 November 2020 http://www.lindtinquest.justice.nsw.gov.au/Documents/findings-and-recommendations.pdf

[8] ‘Learning the hard way: Five years after the Lindt Café siege’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 December 2019, accessed 20 November 2020 https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/learning-the-hard-way-five-years-after-the-lindt-cafe-siege-20191213-p53jpn.html