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Lindt siege inquest: Horrific details emerge

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Hostage victim Katrina Dawson was killed by ricocheting fragments of a police bullet or bullets after officers stormed the Sydney Lindt cafe siege following the execution of Tori Johnson, an inquest has heard.

The opening day of the inquest into the deaths of barrister Dawson and cafe manager Johnson heard graphic details of the events that unfolded at the end of the Martin Place siege last month.

“Ms Dawson was struck by six fragments of a police bullet or bullets which ricocheted from hard surfaces into her body,” counsel assisting the coroner Jeremy Gormly SC said.

Gormly said Monis made Johnson kneel on the floor of the cafe early on December 16.

“After a short lapse of time, Mr Monis simply shot him without further notice or warning in the back of the head,” he 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.

“The shot was witnessed by a police marksman who called it in.

“That resulted in immediate order to force entry of the cafe.”

Gormly told the inquest Monis was killed as he was trying to reload his shotgun.

The inquest heard that on the morning of December 15, Monis went into the cafe and ordered a piece of chocolate cake.

He asked to be moved to a table close to the rear doors, enabling him to see the whole cafe, before requesting to speak to the manager.

Those who knew Johnson, could tell he was stressed by what Monis was telling him, the inquest sitting at the NSW Coroner’s Court in Sydney heard on Thursday.

Johnson told staff to shut the cafe down.

Monis then put on a vest and a bandana.

He stood up, produced a pump action shotgun and by one account he stated: `This is an attack, I have a bomb’.

He ordered everyone to stand up and move to the northern wall of the cafe while ordering hostages to hold an Islamic-style flag.

At 9.44am, Johnson placed a Triple 0 call at the request of Monis saying Australia was under by Islamic State.

Police were on the scene by 9.51am.

During the siege, the inquest heard Monis discharged a total of five shotgun cartridges on four separate occasions.

Gormly said the inquest would look at what happened and why, and whether it could have been avoided.

A lot of the information will come from the hostages, who had gone through an unimaginable experience.

“They are our eyes and ears and memory,” Gormly said.

Due to the size of the probe, it will likely to be divided into a series of segments so the matter can be heard as quickly as possible.

Among the issues that will be canvassed is the handling of the siege by the NSW police, the use of marksmen and communication with the family of hostages.

A full probe of Monis’s makeup and motivation will also take place, including his criminal history, his religious claims, his media profile and his personal relationships.

Why he was on bail at the time of the shooting will also be looked at.

“For an event that took only 17 hours there has resulted in what has been described to me as hundreds of hours of material, Gormly said.

“Every shot fired by Mr Monis and police officers is likely to be accounted for.”

He said all hostages had already been interviewed by police and that paid media appearances will be examined like any other evidence.

State Coroner Michael Barnes adjourned the proceedings for a place and date to be fixed.

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