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November 29, 2022

Tactical officer returns to Lindt inquest

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In this December 16, 2014 file photo, armed tactical response officers stand ready to enter the Lindt cafe during the siege in Sydney. AP Photo/Glenn Nicholls
In this December 16, 2014 file photo, armed tactical response officers stand ready to enter the Lindt cafe during the siege in Sydney. AP Photo/Glenn Nicholls

A senior member of the NSW Police’s crack tactical unit during the Sydney siege is set to be cross-examined when an inquest into the stand-off resumes.

The former senior Tactical Operations Unit member on Monday told of how police radios faltered as the critical call was made to storm the Lindt cafe after gunman Man Haron Monis executed hostage Tori Johnson.

His boss, the commander of the elite TOU team, had attempted to activate the emergency action trigger required for his men to enter the building as soon as snipers reported Mr Johnson had been shot dead.

But the man’s radio failed and the message never reached the police network, with no movement at the front line nor confirmation over the airwaves.

As he tried to broadcast the message again seconds later, the deputy, who was standing beside him at the forward command post, intervened and radioed out the order himself, the inquest has been told.

Heavily armed officers then stormed the cafe at 2.13am on December 16, 2014, shooting Monis dead more than 17 hours after the siege began.

Another hostage, Katrina Dawson, also died after being hit by police bullet fragments.

Problems with the radio system also prevented anyone from receiving reports that Monis had fired a second shot at 2.09am, or that Mr Johnson had been seen on his knees at 2.06am, the former officer confirmed.

Police could go days without encountering any radio problems but when the network did falter, it would break down two or three times in one day, the deputy tactical commander said.

‘Murphy’s Law is that it always happens at a critical time,’ the ex-officer said.

The inquest is expected to resume on Tuesday morning.


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