A coronial inquiry into December’s Lindt cafe siege, in which three people died, began this week in Sydney and heard that the gunman behind the attack tried to become a member of the Rebels motorcycle gang, but was rejected as “weird”.
In his opening remarks, NSW Coroner Michael Barnes said the inquest, which is expected to run until the end of the year, will look at the motivations of gunman Man Monis. The initial hearing will run for the next fortnight.
“We will look deeply into his background in an endeavour to identify how he was diverted down such a destructive pathway,” he said, as well as looking at “whether these deaths could have been avoided and/or whether changes are needed to prevent a similar incident or to respond more effectively should that be necessary”.
More than 100 witnesses are expected to give evidence, including the hostages involved, police, forensics, ballistics and terror experts.
The coroner conveyed his condolences to the families of Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson, who died, along with Monis, on December 16, but added it was important that the inquest was held quickly as national security questions were at stake. Some of the issues explored during the inquest may never be made public for that reason.
Today, the Coroner’s Court took the unprecedented step of livestreaming the opening addresses by the coroner and counsel assisting, Jeremy Gormly SC and Sydney barrister Sophie Callan.
Callan said Monis had attempted to join two Sydney chapters of the Rebels motorcycle gang, in Mount Druitt and Ingleburn, but was turned away as “strange and weird”.
While no club members are prepared to give evidence, Callan said Monis was not liked by the bikies, who took his motorbike when he tried to join the club in 2013.
Callan described his behaviour as part of a pattern of “always striving for power and influence”, which included his political activities, calling himself a sheikh and time as a “spiritual healer”, which led to a series of sexual assaults against women.
The court heard that Monis never held a gun licence in Australia and last year, he was charged with 43 counts of aggravated indecent and sexual assault, which allegedly occurred over eight years to 2010 when he was acting as a clairvoyant.
Monis also used several different names, including two formal name changes, becoming Man Haron Monis in late 2006.
Callan said “there is nothing to be gained” in looking at granting Monis citizenship because there was “no tenable causal link between allowing Mr Monis into Australia from Iran in 1996 and his actions 18 years later in the Lindt cafe”.
Details from the inquest will be published on a special website set up by the NSW Department of Justice.
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