NSW Police want Sydney siege inquest hearing closed to public

Edited by Nelly T.

In an effort to protect their tactics and methodology from scrutiny, NSW police have backed down on an attempt to have all their evidence heard in private at the Sydney siege inquest.

However after discussing with legal teams representing the victims’ families and the media, they have conceded to only part of it being heard privately.

NSW coroner Michael Barnes is investigating the deaths of two hostages and gunman Man Haron Monis in the Lindt Café in December 2014.

During the 17-hour long siege Tori Johnson, the café manager, was fatally shot in the back of the head by Monis.

Hostage Katrina Dawson died after being hit by shrapnel from police bullets.

The surviving hostages have already handed over their evidence and Mr. Barnes is now hearing evidence about how police managed the siege.

Council assisting Jeremy Gormly SC had said there was a need to balance protecting police methodology with reporting the siege to the public.

The four officers first called to Martin Place would hand over their evidence however afterwards the police wanted some of the hearing’s to be closed.

“There has arisen an issue about the degree to which some aspects of the evidence have to be dealt with,” he said.

“There seems to be a general acceptance that police adopt policies to deal with violence and possible terrorist activity that must be kept secret.

“We know for example there are lone wolves like Monis” he continued to explain that others “work in groups that function with a greater capacity, degree of planning than was demonstrated by Monis.”

Mr Gormly said the inquest was already using pseudonyms for some of the officers who attended the siege – but there was disagreement around making the events of the siege public while protecting police methodologies.

The coroner will next week hear further arguments about keeping some of the police evidence in closed hearings. Superintendent Allan Sicard came forth on Tuesday admitting he was called into Martin Place the morning of the siege because he was relieving local area command at the time.

He said when he got to Martin Place there were a number of police vehicles and it was closed off to the public with an “effective perimeter” in place.

Superintendent Sicard said he was first told there were eight hostages and one gunman – but he later learned there were more hostages.