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Sydney Siege - The Inquests so far.

Updated on June 4, 2016

The Siege is Over. What Now?

Outpouring of Grief.
Outpouring of Grief. | Source

The Siege in Martin Place Sydneyin December 2014 ended as abruptly as it started. According to the hostages, the gunman was erratic in his moods. Conciliatory, even friendly at times, threatening and dictatorial at others.

He got angry after another batch of hostages ran for their life and coldly shot Tori Johnson in the back of his head. That seemed to have been the cue for the Tactical Response Police to storm the building with many flashes of bright lights and guns blazing.

Tori was already dead. Many other captives lay on the floor, among them Katrina Dawson. According to the inquest, Katrina copped a ricocheting bullet and died on the way to the hospital. Monis was fatally shot by the police.

Some other hostages were also physically wounded in the melee, and were immediately seen to, by the paramedics, before being transported to the hospital for further testing and treatment.

Tribute from Lindt
Tribute from Lindt | Source
Solace in Togetherness.
Solace in Togetherness. | Source

Outpouring of Collective Grief.

Many were those in Sydney who had never known Tori Johnson or Katrina Dawson. Some had not even been to the Lindt Café, popular though it was. But many were affected by grief for the loss of innocent lives, and the trauma suffered by the rest of the hostages.

They assuaged their feelings by offering tributes in verse and a sea of flowers in Martin Place. The NSw Government said that the flowers will be converted to compost and used in a future memorial site for the victims.

There may have been some who even grieved for the gunman, but if there was, none voiced it in public.

Once the immediate danger was over, the tension that had gripped many, gave way to analysis, examinations, and recriminations. There were many questions, and no cut and dried answers.

Some blamed the Police for the deaths of the two hostages, and some were angry to find out that Monis – the gunman- was out on bail for a string of offences. There were those who tut-tutted and muttered that those who had fled the café had fed the anger of the gunman who took it out on Tori Johnson. Others claimed that the gunman, Monis, had shown a dislike for Tori right from the start, and that is why he had singled him out for the first killing.

Who was really responsible for the death of the two hostages?

See results

Traumatic stress may compromise the ability to think clearly.

When the gunman realized that some had managed to escape, he must have realized that his grip on his captives was slipping. He threatened that if anyone else escaped, he will kill one of them. He had earlier, threatened Selina and flatly told her she had 15 minutes – after which, presumably, he would kill her. Selina was beside herself as she recounted this in an interview days later. She sobbed as she related how she had to beg for her life.

She was not the only one who shed tears as the interviews brought back vivid memories of what they had been through.

Traumatic stress may compromise the ability to think clearly.

Only two hostages did not accept the offers of the different TV channels, to tell their story. I wondered what had stopped those two doing the same as the others, and presumably they too could have had a handsome payout. John O’Brien a long-retired Wimbledon player, and Stefan Balafoutis, a young lawyer, had teamed up and made a run for it, sometime in the afternoon of that fateful day.

Now, these two did not join in the emotional expose’. Why, I wondered!

Is it Right or is it Wrong?

Some decried the fact that many hostages were paid for their interviews; yet the hostages had suffered real, negative, consequences through no fault of their own.

That is a question that came to my mind whilst writing about this siege some months ago. Now I have some answers.

It is now evident that the hostages did suffer real, negative consequences through no fault of their own. One of these, Louisa Hope who got caught in this drama along with her mother, spent months in hospital recovering from a gunshot wound in her leg. Her mother was also injured.

Louisa Hope was once a victimized hostage of a crazed gunman. He manipulated her by force of his cruel threats and a gun that he said he would use to kill her and other hostages. She also had her mother there, who, by the way, was one of the few who showed the gunman that she would not yield willingly to his whims by refusing to answer a simple question.

Some gave in to his threats and retreated in fear and panic. Some played it cool and plotted against him behind his back. Louisa Hope had to accept the directions of the evil man to keep them all safe for as long as possible.

Louisa Hope had MS and that had an impact on her recovery from a gunshot wound that left her with a shattered ankle. She says that the nurses at the hospital were amazing in their zeal to assist her to recover, but MS slowed her physical recovery down.

Not so with her mental progress. Louisa feels that she has been able to let the past go and that she is back to normal. She did not want to accept any money for appearing in the TV special, however, she said she would like that money to go to a special fund for the nurses as a mark of her love and respect for them.

The premier of NSW also chipped in by immediately doubling the amount, thus starting the fund with $50,000. No doubt, Louisa will be working towards swelling that amount in future.

It is quite common for people to go through the process of disassociation, where they push down their feelings of distress. "They push the feelings aside and that coping mechanism can lead to chronic emotional distress down the track," he said.

It sounds rational to state that it is best to ‘bring it all out”, or to seek the help of a professional in dealing with distress. Yet, some will stand firm and handle frightening events with seemingly no repercussions.

Louisa Hope is displaying immense strength of character and focus on bringing out the light to conquer the darkness of hate and fear. She has stated categorically that she will not let that hateful act define nor to defeat her.

She is showing that she has the strength to walk the walk. What an inspiration!

Homage to the Victims.
Homage to the Victims. | Source

As I went through articles and videos about this event, I started wondering how I would have responded if I had been one of the hostages. Would I have sneaked out at the first opportunity, would I have stayed till the end like they say Tori would have. Would I have defied the gunman like John O’Brien did when he refused to lie down on the floor as directed? Or would I have fallen apart with fear and frustration?

Some hostages spoke highly of Katrina Dawson who did what she could to comfort Julie Taylor, her heavily pregnant colleague. Many spoke of Jarrod and Fiona, the youngest of the group. They both kept their head and somehow managed to portray an innocuous image to Monis, who never suspected that each of them was anything but a willing assistant to him, as he may have imagined.

In fact Jarrod had been plotting with Joel against the gunman, and Fiona took the risk of not surrendering her phone as he had demanded all others to do. She kept it and lent it to many hostages to use when they went to the bathroom.

She was inflappable in preparing food and drink for the gunman and the captives and serving it calmly and efficiently. Could I have acted like that, or does it take a lot of courage to handle the situation in that manner? I wondered! Was she not afraid to die just like some others described?


The Young Ones

For example, Jarrod and Fiona seem to have taken it all in their stride. According to what we have learnt about this event, they were the most effective . I have watched their interviews and Jarrod seems to be aware of the magnitude of what they had been through, but otherwise seemed to be coping well.

Fiona had only just started working at the café, yet, she took risks to help others cope, quietly and efficiently. Paolo wanted her to run out with him, but she felt she should stay with the others. When it was over, she was mindful to acknowledge her friends’ good wishes, but did not have a great deal to say. I imagine she is one of those who need time to themselves to reflect on the recent past.

Joel was another young man who kept his head and plotted silently, but Joel seems to have a legacy of guilty feelings about the death of his former boss. He described Tori as his boss and his friend. Tori Johnson, the manager of the café was coldly shot by the gunman. He was only 34..

The Older Set.

Mr O'Brien, 82 says he has never felt as much relief as he did when he "turned that corner and saw the armed police waiting for me", which is understandable. Yet, he did not shy away from challenging the gunman when ordered to lie down. He retorted that he was too old to do that.

Mrs Hope,75, also felt entitled to challenge Monis. When he asked her age, she responded “I am not going to tell you that!” then added cheekily “How old are you?”

I wonder what the gunman made of these two? Did he accord them respect for being so assertive, or did it rankle him even more?

The Other Hostages.

Selena, who had hugged the news of her pregnancy to herself up that point, now confided in Fiona. I got to wondering what made her do that. Was she afraid that if she died the life growing inside her might be overlooked? Did she want her family to know? Weeks later, during the interview, she seemed still stunned by the events of that day.

Paolo was one of the first to run. He would have been instrumental in furnishing the police with details of what was happening inside. He spoke very highly of Tori, saying that he ‘knew’ that Tori would be staying there till the end, indicating that Tori was a type of person who was heroic and protective.

Both Marcia Mikhael and Katrina Dawson are on record as showing empathy and caring for other hostages around them. Marcia’s eyes filled as she recounted how she realised that Katrina, lying on the floor next to her was dead. It is obvious that Marcia handled the situation with vehement assertiveness bordering on aggressiveness. She was angry that no one seemed to be coming to their aid, and still criticises the police for the way they handled the siege.

The gunman decreed that Louisa Hope would be the secretary. She suffered gunshot wounds. At the interviews later, she showed no bitterness, no resentment and no negative criticism of anyone involved in the siege.

Together we Stand Proud.
Together we Stand Proud. | Source

Sydney is a big, multicultural city. It’s peoples span the spectrum of attitudes and personality traits. One young Muslim felt uncomfortable declaring her stance just after the siege and took the hijab off, presumably to avoid standing out. Yet another young woman, Anglo-Saxon, noticed that, and filled with the fervor of love-of-neighbor, she decided to act. She exhorted her to put the hijab back on her head and offered to walk with her.

That gave rise to the Twitter hashtag #illridewithyou with this explanation - "If you [regularly] take the #373 bus b/w Coogee/MartinPl, wear religious attire & don't feel safe alone: I'll ride with you," she wrote.

As Louisa Hope said after she came out of hospital. “We could become a country of haters or we could respond very differently. It was the most pleasing thing to wake up and be told about the ‘I’ll Ride With You’ hashtag and (the flowers).”

Sydneysiders were determined not to let one madman break them up. They stood together, proud and positive.

The Coronial Inquest in January 2015

After the Sydney Siege ended, life did not return to normal for quite a while. There was grieving, and people of all faiths, color or creed assembled in Martin Place, to get comfort and to give comfort to others.

Then there was outrage. Why did this happen? How did it turn out that two innocent people died, surrounded by others and by dozens of police in the middle of Sydney. As it oft happens, some wante, needed, someone to blame.

A NSW Coronial inquest opened on 29th January 2015. It was confirmed that Monis had killed Tori Johnson and that after that the Tactical Police Unit stormed the building, and fired a total of 22 bullets in quick succession.

Two of those hit Monis and several pieces of shrapnel embedded themselves into Katrina Dawson who died of massive blood-loss.

Yet another crisis on Martin Place, Sydney, Aus.
Yet another crisis on Martin Place, Sydney, Aus. | Source

This Inquest, All About Monis. May 2015

Four Months later to the day, May 2015, another inquest started and the aim was to examine the how and why of Man Haron Monis.

Some claim that he was deranged, others, that he was an evil man guilty of many crimes, some of which he was being tried for at the time of the siege. He was out on bail.

A high flyer amongst top criminal lawyers, Chris Murphy, told an inquest he had represented Monis in November 2009. Monis was then being charged with sending abusive letters to the families of Australian soldiers who fought in Afghanistan. According to Monis he was an Agent For Peace!

Chris Murphy took the case as it seemed to him that Monis was a run of the mill client, and that he could get him out of a jam. Not long afterwards he changed his view of his client.

He is quoted as saying “"I found him politically shallow ... and his later lawyer considered him a dickhead," He added "He was entirely self absorbed with his performance .. my recollection is him holding a pen in the air and saying 'this is my sword'," he said.

He also divulged that after the court appearance, some lawyers refused to act for Monis.

This inquest continues in Sydney.

More her later, as it happens. . . .


August 2015

The Inquest is still in progress. Some say that Monis with his chequered history should not have been out on bail. Some retort that bail is not supposed to be a punitive process, and there was nothing to indicate that he may abscond or harm anyone. The victims and their families wait and wonder. . . .

CREDITS

  1. By Whiteghost.ink (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  2. "(1)Lindt Cafe siege two days later 009a" by Sardaka (talk) 07:26, 19 December 2014 (UTC) - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:(1)Lindt_Cafe_siege_two_days_later_009a.jpg#/media/File:(1)Lindt_Cafe_siege_two_days_later_009a.jpg
  3. By Sardaka (talk) 06:35, 18 December 2014 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
  4. By Sardaka (talk) 07:47, 19 December 2014 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
  5. {{Information |Description ={{en|1=Tributes after Lindt Café siege, Martin Place, Sydney}} |Source =own work |Author =~~~~ |Date =2014-12-18 |Permission = |other_versions = }} Category:2014 Sydney hostage crisis
  6. http://www.9news.com.au/national/2015/05/15/16/42/police-operation-in-martin-place

© 2015 Marie L Boler

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    • MarieLB profile image
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      Marie L Boler 22 months ago from Yamba

      Thank you for reading and for your comments Lucy.

      Like you, I think that day drew a line in the sand for all Sydneyites.

    • profile image

      Lucy 22 months ago

      A year's gone by and I can still feel the fear of that day. Sydney will never be the same for those that were touched by this. You set it out well for me.

    • MarieLB profile image
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      Marie L Boler 2 years ago from Yamba

      Hi Ted,

      Thank you for reading and for sharing your thoughts. Most of what I heard was that the ones who fled to save themselves were not the cause of Tori being shot, but then again, there are so many variations of so many factors, that I doubt anyone could know with certainty. You have given me much to think about.

    • profile image

      Ted 2 years ago

      I have been reading about the inquest, and this clarifies a few points for me. Hopefully they will recognise that some did not act too well.

    • MarieLB profile image
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      Marie L Boler 2 years ago from Yamba

      I am glad you enjoyed the articles, Kate T. I have every intention of filling in more onto this article when I get more info about the enquiries. Hope you pop in again sometime!

    • profile image

      Kate T 2 years ago

      Could not resist reading this one also, even though I dont have much time left here. Very good indeed. Maybe later on you will tell us some more about what was found at the inquest.

    • MarieLB profile image
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      Marie L Boler 2 years ago from Yamba

      Hi Teena White,

      Isn't it fascinating, how diverse humanity is, not only in looks and other attributes, but also in how we handle each type of event. I had to stop from writing more about it, or my readers would have found it too long.

      However, I do intend to add a little to the article when the commission publishes the findings.

      Thank you for your comments.

    • MarieLB profile image
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      Marie L Boler 2 years ago from Yamba

      Hi Kristy,

      You are so right! I guess I did not want to put my own conclusions in the article, but left it to the readers to come up with theirs.

      When the commissions publishes the findings, I will add that to the article too.

    • MarieLB profile image
      Author

      Marie L Boler 2 years ago from Yamba

      Hi Tracy Wishire,

      I too feel that Marcia had her good reasons. It was not up to me to judge, just to place the facts for others to sum up.

      Thank you for stopping by and reading my article. I hope to add more to it once all the findings of the commission are made public.

      .

    • profile image

      Teena White 2 years ago

      I do so echo your sentiments regarding the behaviour of the hostages. Such a diversity of ways of dealing with the emergency.

      It is hard to say, but to me it seems that the young ones handled it best.!

    • profile image

      Kristy 2 years ago

      Was it Karma, was it slack policing, one wonders!! The victims are those who died, the heroes are the three young ones, I think.

    • profile image

      Tracy Wishire 2 years ago

      Poor Marcia, one can understand why she was so angry. I do agree that the young Fiona Ma was tops.

    • MarieLB profile image
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      Marie L Boler 2 years ago from Yamba

      Yes Brent, there is a Commonwealth Enquiry going on into the affair. In time we might learn something more about it.

      Thank you for reading the article, and glad you enjoyed them.

    • profile image

      Brent 2 years ago

      You hit the nail on the head here. It really brings it all to my mind even after all this time. The royal commission, I dont think that is finished yet, so we shall see what they say. Enjoyed all of them, thanks