Sydney cafe seige hostages 'jovial' before gun battle: Police

A police tactical adviser described Man Haron Monis' hostages as 'jovial' and casual' during handover notes. Photo / AP
A police tactical adviser described Man Haron Monis' hostages as 'jovial' and casual' during handover notes. Photo / AP

Senior police described the Lindt Cafe hostages as "jovial" during the siege and didn't consider the gunman's insistence that his victims call their loved ones was an indication he was preparing to kill them, an inquest has heard.

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Jenkins was commander during the final hours of the siege.

Mr Jenkins took over command of the siege around 10pm after he was told in a handover briefing by one of the tactical advisers: "Hostages moving around freely, jovial, casual, going upstairs freely," briefing notes read at the inquest revealed today.

Mr Jenkins told the inquest into the deaths arising from the siege he was probably told the hostages' behaviour was "jovial" because they were allowed to move around the cafe and take toilet breaks while being held captive.

Mr Jenkins said he didn't recall the words "jovial" or "casual" being used to describe the hostages' behaviour but that he had "some comfort" about their safety at the time.

"It's a remarkable word in the context, isn't it?" counsel assisting Jeremy Gormly SC asked.

"It does appear to be, yes," Mr Jenkins replied.

SES Volunteers carefully carry away a photo tribute of Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson, the two victims of the Lindt Cafe seige. Photo / Getty
SES Volunteers carefully carry away a photo tribute of Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson, the two victims of the Lindt Cafe seige. Photo / Getty

Mr Gormly asked if gunman Man Haron Monis' insistence that hostages call family members "might (have meant) the person of interest was giving hostages the last chance to speak to loved ones" and should have prompted police to storm the cafe earlier.

"I'm not sure I drew that inference," Mr Jenkins replied.

Cafe manager Tori Johnson was one of the victims Monis forced to call family and who the gunman later killed at point-blank range.

Mr Gormly said Monis would have had "no interest in having people call to say goodnight".

"There's a real oddity about it, isn't there?" Mr Gormly asked.

"Were you provided with any advice about that?"

Mr Jenkins said the only advice he was provided in relation to risk at the time was that "there was no clear threat ... inside the stronghold ... which did give me comfort".

Monis - who was suspected of carrying a bomb in his backpack - had been holding the hostages captive for about 13 hours at that stage.

Mr Jenkins defended the police decision to follow an Emergency Action plan that required authorities to only storm the building in the event of death, serious injury or imminent death or serious injury.

"When I came on shift I didn't see anything that warranted changing the contain and negotiate strategy," he said.

"There'd been no overt acts of violence."

Mr Jenkins said he had dealings with Monis for various crimes prior to the siege but did not recall him at the time of the December 15, 2014 incident.

Police stormed the cafe after Monis executed Mr Johnson in the early hours of December 16, 2014. Barrister and mother Katrina Dawson was killed by a fragment from a police bullet in the gun battle.

Mr Jenkins will continue giving evidence tomorrow.

- news.com.au

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