Lindt Cafe inquest: dramatic scenes as victim Tori Johnson's mother storms out

By Megan Palin

The inquest has heard the Lindt cafe siege wasn't as violent as typical Isis attacks. Photo / Getty Images
The inquest has heard the Lindt cafe siege wasn't as violent as typical Isis attacks. Photo / Getty Images

Tori Johnson's mother stormed out of the Lindt Cafe siege inquest in tears and yelled, "You're an absolute disgrace," at a key witness after he told the court the gunman "had rights too".

The forward commander, who was in charge when police stormed the cafe, today took the stand at the inquest into the deaths arising from the siege.

Gunman Man Haron Monis executed cafe manager Mr Johnson, 34, at point-blank range at 2.13am on December 16, 2014.

Monis was killed by police who stormed the building and brought the 17-hour ordeal to an end.

Tori Johnson's mother Rosie Connellan during a 2015 interview with Channel 7. Photo / Channel 7
Tori Johnson's mother Rosie Connellan during a 2015 interview with Channel 7. Photo / Channel 7

Barrister and mother-of-three, Katrina Dawson, 38, was killed in the crossfire by fragments of police bullets.

The forward commander, who can't be identified, was today quizzed under cross examination about the triggers for police entry into the cafe during the siege.

There has been a strong focus throughout the long-running inquest on whether or not police should have acted before a hostage was killed.

The forward commander told NSW coroner Michael Barnes, "These are high stakes games, your honour. There's a lot at stake for the hostages and police."

The commander said he didn't accept that he was sitting and waiting for a trigger point to be reached to enter the cafe.

"These are difficult bloody decisions, your honour. I did my absolute best on the night," he told the inquest.

Counsel for Mr Johnson's family Gabrielle Bashir SC said: "Sorry did you say, 'Games'? Would you like to apologise to Tori Johnson's family? There was not a game on the night."

The forward commander said he "accept(ed) that 'game' might not be the right word".

"I had to make some crucial decisions to try and get the best outcome and that's what I did on the night," he said.

"I can't ignore Man Monis as an individual. He had the same rights as anyone else."

Hostage Tori Johnson who was killed during the raid on The Lindt Cafe in Sydney. Photo / Supplied
Hostage Tori Johnson who was killed during the raid on The Lindt Cafe in Sydney. Photo / Supplied

With that, Mr Johnson's mother Rosie Connellan shouted "you're an absolute disgrace" and stormed out of the courtroom in tears with her son's father, Ken Johnson.

Earlier on Tuesday, the inquest heard the siege was a terrorist attack but elements of it differed from how ISIS-inspired violence had played out overseas.

The commander made the comment as he was questioned whether early intervention by police would have maximised the chances of hostages surviving.

"In ISIS inspired sieges the maximum chance of survival of the hostages is through early intervention by police," the inquest heard from a report by UK terror experts.

But the forward commander maintained that "time was his friend" during his second day giving evidence, telling the inquest that ISIS attacks were more violent than events in the Lindt cafe. "They commence with a high level of violence, high levels of death, whether by a person-borne bomb or automatic gun fire, they are not a siege situation," the detective chief superintendent with 35 years' experience said.

Because of these differences, storming the cafe to end the siege was not the best strategy and police persisted with their contain-and-negotiate approach, he added.

The forward commander will resume his evidence on Wednesday.

- news.com.au

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 28 Sep 2016 01:43:30 Processing Time: 628ms