Six questions Lindt siege inquest must answer

Six questions Lindt siege inquest must answer
  1. Six questions Lindt siege inquest must answer
    The coroner is due to hand down his report into the Lindt cafe siege. Six things must be made…


Monday morning, December 15, 2014, dawned fine in Sydney. Inside the Lindt Chocolate Cafe on the corner of busy Martin Place and Phillip Street, an early trickle of customers were coming in for coffee and catch-ups with colleagues from the surrounding banks and legal offices. Others were filling in time before appointments or shopping trips. Christmas would arrive in just 10 days.

Fifty-two year old Louisa Hope and her elderly mother Robin had dropped into the cafe for tea and toast, ahead of a meeting with their legal adviser .

Young Elly Chen, who was reporting for just her third shift as a waitress, was already hard at work, along with seven other staff members.

In total, 18 people were going about their ordinary business inside the cafe at 9.40am when serial criminal and would-be sheikh Man Haron Monis pushed aside his chocolate cheesecake, called manager Tori Johnson over for a whispered conversation, rose from the table, pulled a sawn-off shotgun out of his bag and announced he was taking them all hostage in the name of Islamic State.

By the time the siege ended 17 hours later, three people were dead or dying inside the shattered interior: Tori Johnson, executed at point-blank range by Monis; mother-of-three and barrister, Katrina Dawson, fatally wounded by ricocheting bullet fragments from police weapons; and Monis himself, sprawled on the cafe floor with a portion of his head blasted away by the M4 rifles of the police assault team. Four others - three hostages and one police officer - were wounded.

Lying in her hospital bed seven days later, Louisa Hope would tell police about the hellish final seconds of the siege.

"He shot Tori, he assassinated him ... then everything just started to go off," she said, nursing multiple shrapnel wounds.

"I'm trying to cover my face, at the same time trying not to move, there's all this shrapnel coming up from everywhere because everything's being shot up, and it's all in a split second like a car accident ... then you guys come running in, [saying] 'you're safe, you're safe' [but] all the things are flying everywhere still and I'm thinking, not so safe really ... I'm aware that I'm still alive. And I knew that Tori was dead."

In the immediate aftermath, a carpet of floral tributes bloomed across Martin Place.

But the questions soon started coming. Had police waited too long to storm the cafe? How clinical had their emergency entrance been, given that of the six hostages still inside at the end, two were dead and three wounded? Why was there such a barrage of light and noise, with police hurling 11 "flashbangs" or stun grenades - each going off nine times - as they burst into the cafe? Why hadn't the authorities called in the army's highly trained commando forces stationed on Sydney's perimeter? Why was Monis roaming free in the first place, with a string of criminal charges outstanding against him? How…