Stunned onlookers gasped in horror as a man threatened to jump off the Sky Tower during an almost five-hour ordeal yesterday.

Hundreds, some with children, gathered below the 328m tower; eyes, cameras and phones pointed skywards as the drama unfolded. The man agreed to come down safely just before 8pm.

The man had been on an organised 3pm Skywalk around the tower. He is thought to have removed his harness. He alternately paced, swung his legs over the edge and shouted at those below.

Many gasped audibly when the man repeatedly crossed the spans between the outer rim and the tower. Below, several streets were cordoned off, bus services were diverted and shops emptied.

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As well as three police negotiators, the man had asked to speak to a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses and a Catholic priest.