Sydney siege inquest: Cafe owner Tori Johnson was forced to kneel on the floor by gunman – and then shot in the back of the head

Shooting sparked officers' decision to storm Lindt Chocolate Cafe and end16-hour siege last month

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The cafe owner who was killed during the Sydney siege was forced to kneel on the floor before being executed, an inquest has heard.

Thirty-four-year-old cafe manager Tori Johnson, who was among 18 people taken hostage last month by Man Horan Monis, was killed when the gunman forced him to kneel on the floor and then fired a bullet into the back of his head with a sawn-off shotgun, Jeremy Gormly, a lawyer assisting the coroner, told the Glebe Coroner's Court.

He is believed to have died immediately. A police sharpshooter witnessed Johnson's killing, prompting police to move in, Gormly said.

The court also heard that another hostage was killed when she was struck by fragments of a bullet fired from a police officer's gun as authorities stormed the cafe to end the 16-hour standoff.

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Katrina Dawson, 38, was a barrister who had three children and was killed protecting a pregnant colleague

Katrina Dawson, a 38-year-old lawyer, died after being hit by six fragments of a police bullet that had ricocheted off a hard surface, Gormly told the court. The bullet struck a major blood vessel and she quickly lost consciousness, he said.

The details of the deaths of Dawson and Johnson came on the opening day of the inquest into last month's siege at the Lindt Chocolate Cafe. Man Haron Monis, a 50-year-old Iranian-born, self-styled cleric with a long criminal history, took the customers and workers inside captive and forced them to outline his demands in a series of online videos - including that he be permitted to speak to the prime minister and be delivered an Isis flag.

 

The standoff finally ended when police stormed the cafe in a barrage of gunfire to free the captives. Monis was killed, along with Dawson and Johnson.

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Grieving Lindt cafe workers lay flowers at the scene of the Martin Place siege, which claimed their manager Tori Johnson, in the CBD in Sydney

Officials had previously refused to say whether the hostages died at Monis' hand or were caught in police crossfire. The coronial inquest - a court-like proceeding convened after unusual deaths in Australia - is aimed at determining how they and Monis died, and whether the tragedy could have been prevented.

Gormly cautioned in his opening address that the rundown of events he was giving was preliminary, and based on his interpretation of the evidence he had seen thus far. The coroner will make the final declaration on how the hostages and Monis died.

AP

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