Police bullet fragments killed female hostage
ONE of the two hostages who died in a 16-hour siege at a Sydney cafe last month was killed by ricochets of a police bullet or bullets, an inquest into the deadly stand-off heard yesterday.
Barrister and mother of three Katrina Dawson, 38, was killed along with cafe manager Tori Johnson, 34, and Iranian-born gunman Man Haron Monis when police stormed the cafe in Sydney's financial district.
"Ms Dawson was struck by six fragments of a police bullet or bullets which ricocheted from hard surfaces into her body," said counsel assisting the coronial inquest, Jeremy Gormly.
"I will not detail the damage done to Ms Dawson, other than to say that one fragment struck a major blood vessel. She lost consciousness quickly and died shortly afterwards."
The inquest at the New South Wales Coroners' Court will outline what happened in the siege, investigate the police response to the hostage situation and delve into the background and motivations of Monis.
A separate joint investigation commissioned by the federal and New South Wales governments is set to submit a report on the siege in the next few days.
Mr Gormly told the hearing that Mr Johnson was killed when he was shot in the back of the head by Monis with a sawn-off shotgun, after being made to kneel on the floor just moments after several hostages fled the cafe.
"Mr Johnson was made by Monis to kneel on the floor of the cafe. After a short lapse of time, Monis simply shot him without further notice or warning in the back of the head," Mr Gormly said.
"The end of the barrel was about 75cm from Mr Johnson's head at the moment of discharge. Mr Johnson is believed to have died immediately."
Mr Gormly said the shooting was witnessed by a police marksman, which then led to the order for trained police "tactical operatives" to storm the cafe.
About 22 shots were fired by the officers at Monis after 11 flash-bang grenades were thrown into the cafe, while Monis fired two shots, the hearing was told.
"Bullets and fragments of bullets hit Monis, who was, it seems, killed instantly," Mr Gormly said. "At least two bullets, police bullets or bullet fragments, hit Monis in the head and 11 other bullets, police bullets or fragments, hit him in the body."
The inquest will look into Monis' claims that his actions were an attack on Australia by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and whether he had any terrorist associations. But Mr Gormly noted that "at present, it seems he had not established any contact" with the militant organisation.