Whether it was carefully planned or triggered by an emergency, storming the Lindt Cafe was always going to be messy and brutal, a senior police officer has told an inquest.
Rushing in was an option of last resort, the superintendent who was in charge of the forward command for much of first day told the siege inquest in Sydney on Tuesday.
Two entries were considered – a carefully planned and timed Deliberate Action (DA), and an Emergency Action (EA) triggered by the death or serious injury of hostages.
The officer, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the inquest he had “significant concerns” about a deliberate entry because, despite the planning, it was not necessarily safer than an emergency-triggered response.
“(An EA is) messy, it’s brutal and it’s an option of last resort,” he said.
But a deliberate action wasn’t a surgical, soft approach.
“It is still a very confrontational, brutal, loud, overwhelming use of force to neutralise the threat,” he said.
Lindt Cafe gunman Man Haron Monis detained 18 people in the Martin Place cafe on December 15, 2014, holding them hostage for more than 16 hours.
The officer also said that, even in a deliberate entry, if it wasn’t properly executed Monis could still have detonated an explosive device, risking the lives of the hostages and the police who went in.
Protruding wires from a backpack carried by Monis, suspected to be a bomb, were later revealed to be fake.
In the end an EA brought the siege to end.
Police were forced to act when Man Haron Monis fatally shot cafe manager Tori Johnson at point blank range at 2.13am on December 16.
Barrister Katrina Dawson was killed when she was hit by a fragment of a police bullet as they stormed inside.
Monis was also killed.
The superintendent also suggested the NSW Police Force needed to fill gaps in its access to technology during situations like the siege, after counsel assisting, Jeremy Gormley, SC, likened their practices to turning up “with a minibus and a radio”.
The officer suggested the force look into technology used by the Australian Defence Force, which could be set up at a forward command in minutes.