'Why am I the criminal?': The Untold Story of the Sydney siege

A survivor of the the harrowing Sydney siege describes the pain of being 'treated like a criminal' in the investigation following the ordeal.

Marcia Mikhail, 43, revealed a series of potentially-deadly escape attempts and the grim details of how two of her fellow hostages never made it out alive after a gunman took control of the Lindt Cafe on December 15.

Mikhail describes thinking, "Why aren't you helping us?", as she was forced to stand against a window.


"It was then that I knew that there was not going to be any negotiation and we were just left there. No-one was coming for us."

"I know they couldn't. I know that. I know they had a plan," she said.

"But not knowing, the unknown was hard."

Mikhail describes her disappointment of her treatment during the investigation which followed the siege.

"I can't get my police statement... They won't give it to me. Why am I the criminal here?"

Mikhael said she felt uneasy about how the crisis was handled.

"I know there are a lot of officers who risked their lives to be there and I thank them from the bottom of my heart. Don't get me wrong, I'm not being ungrateful to them, but I just think the army would have been a better - more appropriate to be handling this situation," she said.

Mikhael said she thought the police should have been proactive rather than just waiting.

She was also furious over the police response when she phoned with the gunman's demands.

"The prime minister is a very busy man," she recalls being told, and that he couldn't come to the phone.

"I yelled at him ... I was in disbelief."

The inquest into the events at the Lindt cafe was adjourned on January 29, with a future hearing date and location yet to be set.


Marcia's story

Marcia is a world champion body builder and a mother to three boys. The morning of the siege she trained for over an hour before getting ready to go to work.

Marcia Mikhael with her family. Photo: 7News
Marcia Mikhael with her family. Photo: 7News

A project manager for Westpac, Marcia divided her time between two offices - one at Martin Place and one across town at Kent Street.

She was deciding which one to go to when a colleague sent her a text.

“He goes, 'Are you coming to Martin Place? Do you want to do coffee?'," she said.

"I texted back and said, 'Yes, I'm coming to Martin Place but I don't want to have coffee at Lindt I'm trying to be good today... no chocolate, no cakes we can go somewhere else."

Hostage Marcia Mikhael during her interview with Seven News.
Hostage Marcia Mikhael during her interview with Seven News.

But Marcia's colleague, Pushpendu Ghosh, and another of their friends had no intention of letting her avoid Lindt and its famous chocolates.

“That particular morning it was like, 'Let's tease her and test her will, how much can she resist chocolate because she loves chocolate'," Mr Ghosh told 7News.

Also joining in on the joke was Viswakanth Ankireddi who is married to Shilpa and works as an IT expert at Westpac.

Before heading to work Viswa, as his mates call him, dropped his young daughter at day care.

He then caught a train to Martin Place to join Pushpendu in convincing Marcia to go to Lindt.

At 8:33am, 50-year-old Man Haron Monis entered Lindt.

He ordered chocolate cake and cup of tea.

Just after 9am as Sunrise presenters, David Koch, Natalie Barr and Rebecca Maddern signed autographs in Martin Place Monis told a waitress he wanted to speak to the manager.

At 9:30am, Marcia arrived with her two colleagues who were still intent on playing their joke.

"Actually, six dark chocolate macaroons were ordered that morning, although I said no chocolate today," she said.

"We never, we never got to eat them, never got to eat them."

Next to their table, she said cafe manager Tori Johnson was doing some paperwork.

With him, was an "unusual" man who would, within moments, turn terrifying.

"He looked a bit unusual with his backpack on and he didn’t have the bandana on then. ... and they were just calmly talking there it seemed, and I didn't take any notice of it," she said.

Gunman Man Haron Monis. Picture: AAP
Gunman Man Haron Monis. Picture: AAP

"I thought it was like a meeting. Nothing special.”

One customer tried to leave and couldn't get through the locked doors.

"I thought it was quite rude," Ms Mikhael said.

"So I looked at her and I said, 'This is the manager, I know, ask him to open the door for you, he'll let you out'."

"And that's when everything started. That's when Man Monis gets up and he shows the gun."

"He takes the gun out of the bag and he says, 'Sit down, everyone... if you sit down and don’t move you'll be okay, you'll be safe'."

"(He said) 'There's a big police presence outside, I'm trying to keep you safe'."

"He made it sound like he was trying to keep us in there for our own good and safety."

Fellow hostage Jieun Bae Bae said she thought the doors had been locked because something was happening outside.

But then Monis told them he had two bombs in the cafe.

He ordered them to move against the wall.

Hostage Marcia Mikhael was forced to stand in a window of the Lindt cafe during the siege. Photo: 7News
Hostage Marcia Mikhael was forced to stand in a window of the Lindt cafe during the siege. Photo: 7News

Ms Mikhael was then told to stand by the window and hold up a black flag so it could be seen from outside.

Monis told his hostages - 10 men and eight women - that if the police came close to the cafe, he would shoot one of them.

Two of the women were pregnant.

The ten customers included three barristers, four Westpac employees, a retired tennis champion, an elderly mother and her daughter who has MS.

All of them struggling to come to terms with what was happening.

"He would actually ask us questions," Mikhael said.

"He was trying to make small talk... so he asked Julie if she had any children and she said no she was pregnant."

"At the end he knew that I had three kids because he asked me... he knew that Katrina had three kids, so he was he was making small talk with all of us."

"He wanted to, he wanted to know about us which was bizarre."

Sydney siege victims barrister Katrina Dawson and cafe manager Tori Johnson.
Sydney siege victims barrister Katrina Dawson and cafe manager Tori Johnson.

At 9:44am, Monis ordered cafe manager Tori Johnson to dial Triple zero and say that Australia “is under attack by Islamic State."

By 9:51am, police satrted arriving outside the cafe.

"I was hoping they would stay away because every time the police came closer and he saw he would threaten us again and threaten to shoot," Mikhael said.

"Our life was in danger.”

Ms Mikhael said they feared Monis would make good on his word.

“We were terrified that he was eventually going to start shooting us, we didn’t know what he was capable of because no-one knew who he was... whether he was just a lunatic who decided to do this on his own or whether he was with someone else, or whether he was a terrorist, we didn't know, we just didn't know who he was."

"At first I was hysterically crying - like frantic crying - standing there with my arms up in the air, because at the beginning there was a lot of commotion."

"There were people trying to either get in and out of the building, cops yelling at them to get out of the way. And then the street became deserted."

"And then all of a sudden there was a police officer."

"I was the only one who could see him because he was standing right against a wall."

"Because of where I was standing, Man Monis couldn't see that I had my eyes open, so I was actually looking out and I started to communicate with this police officer."

"That was right at the beginning, maybe the first hour."

"The police officer asked me then how many of gunmen in the room. Because I had my arms up in the air, all I did was just point, you know, number one, to him."

"So he goes, okay, he goes 'One?' And I said, 'Yes'. And then he goes, "Where is he now? And once again, I just kind of pointed as to where he was, because he was standing just behind the wall where I was. And then he disappeared'."

"There was no-one there anymore."

"It was just quiet and it was very scary."

"I was thinking where’s everyone? Why are they? Why aren’t they rescuing us? Where are they? It was just deserted. There was no one outside, no one. It was quite scary."

IN PICTURES: A timeline of the siege that took place at the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place and the tributes that followed after. Photo: AAP
IN PICTURES: A timeline of the siege that took place at the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place and the tributes that followed after. Photo: AAP

Across Martin Place, the Channel Seven newsroom could be seen through glass walls. It had been evacuated but key members of the police tactical response unit were using it as a base to observe what was happening through the cafe windows and possibly take out Monis.

Monis kept asking his hostages: "Is there anyone in Channel Seven? Can you see anyone?"

"And I'm looking inside Channel Seven and I could see police officers in there walking around and I'm just looking at them going why aren't you helping us?," Marcia said.

"Why don't you come and get us out of here?

"And then he would ask, 'can you see anyone?' and I would go 'no, the building has been evacuated, there's no one in there. There's no one in there'.

"And I could see about five, six police officers just walking around, walking around and I'm like, 'Why aren’t you helping us?'

"I know they couldn't. I know that. I know they had a plan but not knowing, the unknown was hard. It was hard."

It was late-morning when George, Marcia's husband of 25 years, learned of the siege taking place in the cafe near her workplace.

"I was worried about my wife. So I called her twice; she didn't answer. I sent her a message; she didn't answer," he recalled.

But Marcia didn't have her phone with her.

"[Monis] made us put the phone on the table, but I knew that I would've been getting a lot of text messages...so I managed to grab the phone off the table when I told him that I needed to go to the toilet," Marcia said.

By now George was in his car driving frantically towards the city, and Martin Place.

"As I crossed Anzac Bridge she sent me the first message. I was driving. I read it. My heart just dropped. You know, my fear just came," he said.

"It said, 'Lindt hostage'. I replied while I was driving. I said, 'I love you'."

At 2:30pm, George sent a message saying 'Be strong'.

The only other message George would receive would be later in the evening read:'I'm scared he's going to kill us.'

Frustrated that none of his demands were being met and none were being broadcast on radio or TV at the request of the police Monis had hostages like Jarrod Hoffman and Marcia Mikhael ring the police and media directly.

A clearly distraught Marcia was forced to call a Sydney newsroom.

“He kept saying...he would release a hostage for a flag, he would release five hostages for the opportunity to talk to Prime Minister Tony Abbott via live broadcast and he would release two other hostages if there was a live broadcast saying this was an attack on Australia by the Islamic State," Mikhael said.

“But we were more than eight people in there so I actually asked him – what if all your demands are met, eight hostages are out, what about the rest of us?

"He goes, 'Don't worry, I'll make all the demands and we'll release all the other hostages as well'. And then I asked him, 'What about you? How do you think you are going to get out of here, are you going to get out of here alive?'."

"He looks at me and he goes, 'Don't worry I have a plan for myself'."

"So, I knew he didn't want to get out of there alive... and because of that I was very afraid of how it was going to end."

JOHN'S ESCAPE

It was ten days before Christmas and driving into the city that morning was 82-year-old John O'Brien, on his way to his annual eye check-up.

In 1956 John made the last 16 at Wimbledon, only to lose to fellow Australian, Lew Hoad - the eventual winner.

After his doctor's appointment the man who would become the siege's oldest hostage planned to treat himself at Sydney's Lindt Chocolate café.

“I just went on and finished my coffee and raisin toast was almost finished, and I was about to leave in about two or three minutes," O'Brien said.

"Then all hell broke out loose once they locked the front door.

“Man Monis started raving and ranting and shouting, 'Everyone get up to the window, stand up with your hands up and eyes closed'."

"He was ranting and raving about Tony Abbott, what a cheat and a liar and a terrible man he is, and he won't pull the Australian troops out of Afghanistan.

"He threatened us when he said that because Tony Abbott wouldn't come to the phone, he said 'Tony Abbott will have all your blood on his hands when I kill you all one by one.'"

O'Brien's phone rang while he was inside the cafe. It was his wife, Maureen.

"I picked it up quickly and just answered quickly. I said 'I'm being hostage in the Lindt coffee shop'," he said.

Maureen nearly passed out upon hearing John's words.

"Then [Monis] jumped at me and stood up, and he said, 'Get off that phone straight away', which I did."

“It was very frightening and I thought, 'Gee, how do you get out of here?'”

The oldest Sydney siege hostage, 82-year-old John O'Brien, escaped just after 3pm. Photo: Seven
The oldest Sydney siege hostage, 82-year-old John O'Brien, escaped just after 3pm. Photo: Seven

Using the competitive skills learned on the tennis circuit, from very early on John O'Brien focused his energies on how to escape.

O'Brien started began to think that if several of them teamed up, they could jointly overpower Monis.

"I thought about if I could’ve organised two or three of the other men to you know jump him or get something to hit him over the head," he said.

"But I couldn't, we couldn’t organise anything because we were separated. He had everyone in certain spots."

A chance came when Mr O'Brien asked to go to the toilet, and was escorted there by Lindt worker, Fiona Ma. On the way, he found a possible opening to escape.

"She was the girl who was assigned to take everyone to the toilet, and you were supposed to keep your eyes closed as you walked over and she had you by the arm," Mr O'Brien said.

But he kept his eyes open and spotted a green button - marked "press to exit" - by a fire escape door.

When he returned from the toilet, he whispered to Ms Chan: "Does the green button on the door work?"

She told him, "I don't know. I've only been here a week".

By then, the pressure had got to several of the hostages.

Ms Chan collapsed on the ground in a panic attack.

While she lay there in front of him, Monis had his gun to her back.

"At this point in time there was quite a lot of shouting because the other hostages, they were getting angry and irritated as well," she said.

"And so that agitated him, and I felt really scared, because if I did anything wrong I’d be the first one gone."

By 3pm, Mr O'Brien decided to take a chance with the green button.

But to get there, he would have to crawl across the floor under several tables and push himself through a small gap between a Lindt sign and the wall near the exit door.

"I was waiting for the right moment," he said.

"He was getting lower and lower into the corner of the far end of the shop and I thought,' well, it’s worth the risk to be either shot there or shot on the way out; I think it’s a better risk to go for it'.

Mr O'Brien signalled silently to another hostage, lawyer Stefan Balafoutis, who was standing near him. The pair quietly began making their way to the exit door.

He thought: "This is going to be the biggest roll of the dice of my life."

"They were the worst ten seconds of my life, because I thought if the green button doesn’t open then he’ll probably come up and shoot us in the back," he recalled.

"And they were, they were the worst ten seconds, waiting for that green button to open."

When the door opened and Mr O'Brien ran out into Martin Place, he said it was "the most wonderful moment".

He immediately began giving police information about Monis and the location of the hostages.

A short time later, the third hostage to escape, Paolo Vassoulis, fled out into the street.

Marcia Mikhael said the escapes made Monis furious.

"He started issuing threats that he’s now going to kill someone just to set an example and that one of us is going to pay for their mistake," she said.

"I think he said 'it's a big mistake, now someone’s going to pay for it'.

"All of us then tried to calm him down, trying to reason with him, trying to explain to him that we are still here. We did not abandon him, we’re still listening to him and we are still working with him and that he should spare our lives."

The remaining hostages then made a pact that none of them would try to escape.

A desperate bid for freedom. Photo: AP
A desperate bid for freedom. Photo: AP

JIEUN AND ELLY'S ESCAPE

Jieun Bae and Elly Chen might never have teamed up that day if not for the selfless act of Marcia Mikhael.

When Elly had a panic attack and fell ill, Marcia left perhaps the safest spot in the cafe, to tend to her.

"I was near the door, I was near the exits," Mikhael said.

"I could hear someone hyperventilating. I could hear someone crying. So, I volunteered to leave my safe little spot, because where I was standing was quite safe."

But for many hours 22-year-old Elly was also in considerable danger – sitting at Monis’s feet, his shotgun pointed at her back.

She feared he would shoot her when John, Stefan, and Paolo escaped.

He jumped up, enraged.

Elly was terrified. She crawled around a pillar to get out of his sight and came face to face with 20-year-old Jieun Bae.

Elly had only started at Lindt that past week. Jieun had only returned from holidays that day.

Their plan was to stay out of sight and stage an escape so quiet that Monis would not even notice they’d gone.

Jieun was determined that Elly would come with her.

Monis was hiding in the corner, away from the windows and snipers.

The girls were right by an internal door leading to a corridor leading to Martin place.

The door had been bolted shut.

After what seemed like an eternity, the door was unlocked. It was close to 5pm when the girls managed to pull down the latch without making a sound - but they still had to open it without being noticed.

"We were on our knees, and slowly pushing the door open."

"She held the door open for me, and then I closed it really gently so that it wouldn’t make a noise."

They were free.

Their plan had worked.

And Monis was unaware they’d gone.

Hostages Elly Chen (left) and Jieun Bae (right) revisit the Lindt cafe. Pictured here with Mark Ferguson in front of the door through which they escaped.
Hostages Elly Chen (left) and Jieun Bae (right) revisit the Lindt cafe. Pictured here with Mark Ferguson in front of the door through which they escaped.

"What I really didn’t understand, when all the police came out and they told me I was brave," Elly said.

"But I just, I just ran away from this scary situation. I didn’t think of it as bravery."

The woman she regards as brave is Marcia Mikhael, whose act of compassion cost her a chance to escape.

"If that’s the reason why I was in that cafe, because they say that everything happens for a reason, if that’s the reason that I was there to help one person, one person cope and one person get out of there alive, then I’m happy with myself," Mikhael said.

Jieun Bae and Elly Chen might never have teamed up that day if not for the selfless act of Marcia Mikhael. Photo: 7News
Jieun Bae and Elly Chen might never have teamed up that day if not for the selfless act of Marcia Mikhael. Photo: 7News

THROUGH THE LENS OF A CAMERA

As the Channel Seven building was being cleared, cameraman Greg Parker raced upstairs to set up multiple cameras looking directly into the Lindt cafe windows.

Parker was given a bullet proof vest and remained with the Police sniper in the Newsroom for the entire siege.

Images from his three cameras were relayed to the tactical command post police set up in the Leagues Club one building down from the Lindt cafe... supplying them with vital real time information about Monis's movements.

"As we came up to level four, I passed the Tactical Operations Unit guys, in their full kit with some pretty heavy weaponry," Parker told 7News.

"And they said, 'Are you aware of some vantage points?'. I said,'Come with me, I’ve actually got a camera set up'.

"I was just gonna check it. I quickly showed him the shot."

"Instantly I saw some pretty distressing stuff because they were people like you and me, clearly being forced to stand against their will, clearly in distress, tears. They were all complying."

"I saw this threatening image of a guy with a gun. I saw a guy clearly of middle eastern appearance, saw him agitated, saw him angry, saw him bullying people."

"I'd describe torturing people, putting a gun to their head. I thought he was the lowest human I had ever seen."

A sniper in the Seven Network newsroom, who had his sights trained on Man Haron Monis for hours. Photo: 7News
A sniper in the Seven Network newsroom, who had his sights trained on Man Haron Monis for hours. Photo: 7News

"There was non-stop movement of rotating the hostages through the windows. You’re seeing hostages faint, seeing them just clearly breaking down in distress."

"I saw them being forced to hold that flag with the message on it, and I remember seeing Marcy distraught, really withdrawn, almost like she'd given up, just slumped against the side wall."

At 5:30pm, as the siege entered its ninth hour, police allowed one reporter, Chris Reason, into the all but deserted Seven building opposite Lindt.

Chris Reason joined the police sniper and cameraman Greg Parker.

All three had been warned that there was the possibility of bombs in both Lindt and Channel Seven.

"In the briefing I got, I was told that the sound of the explosion would travel faster than the fragments of glass, and therefore if you heard anything just to dive straight under the nearest desk," Reason told 7News.

As night fell, the gain feature on the 7News cameras became one of police's most significant tools.

"For non-technical people, it’s the equivalent of night vision," explained cameraman Greg Parker.

"So [Monis] thought he was out of shot, he thought he couldn’t be seen, and we didn’t know what was going inside. But every time he moved through a window, it was clear as day to myself and to the sniper."

"I can honestly say, as the night went on, I actually started to think to myself, you know what they’re gonna talk him out, they’re not gonna take him out. This is not a crazed Jihadi, this is a crazed criminal, and I thought there was a window of opportunity to get him out of the building," Reason reflected.

But inside the Lindt cafe, Marcia thought differently.

She 'lost it' when one of the phone calls she was forced to make to Tony Abbott was met with a response of "the Prime Minister is a very busy man and he can’t come to the phone".

"I couldn’t believe it. I was in disbelief," she recalled.

"I think I actually said that I don’t care what he’s doing right now, whether he’s walking his dog or he’s you know playing golf with his mates, I’m sure there is nothing more important happening in Australia right now than this, and the lives of the people in this cafe. And then I hung up."

It was then that I knew that there was not going to be any negotiation and we were just left there.

"No one was coming for us; I knew that. They weren’t going to come. So, that’s when I lost hope."

Marcia asked Monis if she could call her children so she could hear their voices for the last time.

"I told them that I loved them very much, and I needed them to remember that."

"My eldest son kept telling me, ‘Mum, stop it, everything’s going to be okay, everything’s going to be okay, mum, stop, stop.’ And I kept telling him, ‘I know, I know, but just remember that I love you, I love you, I love you so much.’ And then I had to hang up."

Other hostages also made phone calls at about 10pm. Most rang their families, but not Pushpendu Ghosh.

"I’m glad that I didn’t do it because I didn’t know what I was going to tell my parents. I didn’t even know if my parents knew about this situation," Ghosh said, adding that Monis never offered him permission to call."

"But I did see other peoples talk to their families, and I see them break down."

"It really felt very bad watching Tori speak to his family, when he spoke to his family. "

"That’s the only time when I heard him, and he was sobbing, and he was crying, and he realised - is the moment near? Is it going to be very quick now? What’s going to happen?"

"Then I saw Viswa speak to his family. I saw the look on his face. And then Marcia spoke to her family and she broke down.

"And I was sitting there and I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t dare to step up to Marcia and comfort her. I just sat there. But then Katrina (Dawson) did comfort her, consoled her, comforted her."

It was an extraordinary experience to form a bond with another woman, in similar circumstances, both intelligent, work in the city, mums, who had a whole day together and not speak, yet to look at each other and just know exactly what the other one was feeling and thinking.

Other hostages also made phone calls at about 10pm.  Most rang their families, but not Pushpendu Ghosh. Photo: 7News
Other hostages also made phone calls at about 10pm. Most rang their families, but not Pushpendu Ghosh. Photo: 7News

THE FINAL ESCAPE

By midnight lone gunman Man Monis had been keeping police at bay for over 14 hours. He still had 13 hostages.

As the night grew, he was now panicking at even the slightest noises.

"At two o'clock Monis felt someone was towards the fire exit door," recalled Ghosh.

"I think he was sensing something."

He grabbed Fiona and Selena and he took them to the kitchen. He didn’t want anyone coming in or going out through the fire exit.

He had Fiona and Selina as the shields with the gun at their back.

As Monis went with his two human shields to investigate the noise by the fire exit door near the kitchen, he gave 19-year-old Lindt employee Jarrod Hoffman an instruction.

He asked Jarrod to stand near the door that exits into Martin Place.

Directly across from Jarrod, in Phillip street, armed police signal to him through the glass.

Marcia was left inside the cafe, where she was dreading the end.

"I knew the only way they could end it, it was for them kill him," she said.

"And I was like how are they going to do that without hurting anyone else in here?"

"It was a waiting game - they were waiting for him to kill someone or shoot something so they can come in. It would be reactive. There was nothing proactive about that operation, nothing."

At 2:05am more hostages had made it to safety, leaving seven in the Lindt cafe at the mercy of an enraged Monis.

"I thought like, alright, they might be storming in. I said like, alright, that’s a hope, I’m a bit excited now by what’s happening here.

"And he’s pointing towards the inside where the gunman is, and then he’s asking like should I - should we run? And then he’s looking at us.

"That’s when I got ready. I took a stance... to make a run for things. I nudged Viswa as well because he was sitting next to me."

After receiving the message from Ghosh, Viswa (pictured) also signalled one of the other hostages. Photo: 7News
After receiving the message from Ghosh, Viswa (pictured) also signalled one of the other hostages. Photo: 7News

After receiving the message from Ghosh, Viswa also signalled one of the other hostages.

"And then Jarrod just went for the door," he said.

"He just turned on his heel and went for the door. And I just, I was just at his heels. I just followed him."

Monis was still at the back of the café, gun in hand standing over Fiona Ma as she stacks boxes to block anyone entering through fire exit door.

Then he heard a noise.

In the dark, in the rush to escape, one of the hostages hits a chair or breaks a glass.

"I felt that rush of air just passing so fast next to my head. I ran and then I fumbled over on the foyer, which is between the Lindt Café and another building, and then we just ran away there," Viswa said.

Monis stormed into the room and fired a shot.

In all, six hostages were out.

"At the debriefing room I saw Viswa and I’ve never hugged someone so much and then I looked around the room and I didn’t see Marcia," said Ghosh.

"And I kept asking, kept asking, where’s Marcia, where’s Marcia? Viswa said.

“Even now I feel did I make the right choice to run out and leave my friend Marcia inside," Ghosh reflected.

"I don’t know, maybe I should have stayed... sometimes I feel I should have stayed inside... I shouldn’t have left Marcia."

Seven hostages remained: Fiona Ma, Selina Win Pei, Robyn Hope and her daughter, Louisa, Lindt manager, Tori Johnson and Marcia Mikhael and Katrina Dawson, who were hiding under a table at the front corner near the Martin Place side exit.

At that point, when Monis came back running and saw Louisa on the floor.

"He looks at Louisa and he goes, 'What happened? Why are you on the floor?', Mikhael said.

"She says, 'My legs are bad, I’m sorry, I fell'."

"She has MS... so he picks her up, he helps her off the ground, he picks her up, and then he notices Tori still sitting on the bench. So he asks Tori to come to him. He goes, 'Manager, come over here'."

Monis stood behind Johnson - his left hand on Tori's shoulder, his right hand holding a shotgun at Tori's back.

"He didn’t say much to Tori," Marcia said.

"He just told him to stand next to him and then after that he reloaded his gun."



According to Marcia, Monis fumbled to reload his gun for quite some time, and during that time said not one word.

"There was nothing said, absolutely nothing. If [Tori] kneeled, maybe Man Monis pushed him down, but there was absolutely nothing spoken," she said.

Outside, police were at the ready but still don’t enter.

A shot had been fired, yet long, tense minutes pass.

The seven remaining hostages are alone with Monis and Tori Johnson has been singled out.

A chilling eight or nine minutes before it all came to a head.

There was no sound. There was no struggle. There was no dialogue or yelling. It was complete silence and then a second shot was fired.

"When that shot rang out, there was no doubt," said Chris Reason, who had been in the Channel Seven building with the police sniper.

“We looked at each other and we knew that was a gunshot and it was four seconds after that the police sniper beside us calmly, coolly said, ‘Window two, hostage down’"

It was now 2:14am.

Man Monis has killed Tori Johnson with a single shot to the back of his head.

When Monis fired his deadly second shot Marcia Mikhael and Katrina Dawson were side by side, desperately close to him - and in the firing line.

"As soon as the second shot took place, I took one last look at Katrina and she looked at me, and then she puts her hands on her face and she puts her face down, like to protect her face," Mikhael said.

"I kind of go into a foetal position, you know, and my legs get hit. Both legs were in agony."

"I could tell that I was hit by something."

"I did let a little scream out, but then I kind of held myself back, thinking, 'Be quiet, he’s gonna hear you, you have to be quiet, he’ll hear you."

"And I’m praying and I’m just thinking, 'Please God, please God, please God, I need to get out of here alive'."

The sea of flowers in Martin Place. Photo: AP
The sea of flowers in Martin Place. Photo: AP

At the inquest into the siege, the bangs were revealed to be from 11 SF9s, which were used as a distraction.

Also known as "flashbangs" they create the sound of shots and flashes of light. The effect, to anyone nearby, is of a hail of bullets.

"There were just so many shots, and I could smell the gunpowder, I could feel, I could feel the heat of things like near me, hitting me, whether it was, it was the stunt grenades or bullets or whatever it was - I could feel them, they were so close to me, and that strong smell of gunpowder, and it was so bright," Mikhael said.

"Everything was just lit up as if it was like New Year’s Eve, and there were so many things happening in there."

And then all of a sudden it stopped.

"I looked up and I could see the police officers wearing the black uniform. That’s when I looked to my right to see if Katrina was okay. She wasn’t moving. She was just lying down with her head facing me, looking at me."

As police came to the aid of Marcia, she desperately sent them to check on Katrina's condition.

"As soon as they get to me I look at them and I go, 'Please take her first, she’s not moving, get her out of here'."

"Katrina was right next to me and she didn’t make it, but I did."

A hostage is taken from the Lindt cafe in Martin Place, Sydney. Photo: Getty
A hostage is taken from the Lindt cafe in Martin Place, Sydney. Photo: Getty

Six police bullets, or fragments of bullets, hit Dawson. One struck a major blood vessel. She lost consciousness and died a short time later.

Monis died instantly.

Monis' shots missed the police but 13 of their bullets hit him - two in the head and 11 in the body.

When asked if she could still picture his face, Marcia said the question should be "whether I can ever not see his face".

"And the answer is no, I can't ever stop seeing his face," she said.

Marcia was one of three hostages who revealed to Channel Seven unease about the way authorities handled the crisis.

“I know there are a lot of officers there (who) probably risked their lives to be there and I thank them from the bottom of my heart," she said.

"Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being ungrateful to them... but I just think that maybe the army would’ve been better, more appropriate to be handling this situation."

"It was a waiting game. They were being reactive. There was nothing proactive about that operation."

Meanwhile John O'Brien was also irate.

"I am very angry because I only said to my wife two or three months ago, it won't be long before we have an attack here," he said.

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