17 Dec 2014

Sydney hostage describes relief

8:20 pm on 17 December 2014

Sydney siege survivor John O'Brien has spoken out, offering his condolences to the families of the two hostages who died during the 16-hour ordeal at the central city cafe

Watch the ABC interview with John O'Brien

Barrister and mother-of-three Katrina Dawson, 38, and Lindt cafe manager Tori Johnson, 34, were killed in the siege, along with 50-year-old gunman Man Haron Monis. Fifteen other hostages survived the ordeal.

Mr O'Brien, 83, was among the first hostages to make a break for freedom after spotting a path to escape.

"All I was doing was going to see the eye doctor on the Monday morning to have my eyes checked, which I usually do every year, and then I go down to the Lindt coffee shop for a quick coffee," he told the ABC.

"I have never felt such a relief as I did when I turned that corner and saw the armed police waiting for me."

John O'Brien caught on camera as he escapes from the Lindt cafe.

John O'Brien caught on camera as he escapes from the Lindt cafe. Photo: Vine

Mr O'Brien said he was not able to talk about what happened inside the cafe, but had been helping with the police investigation.

He said he escaped with barrister Stefan Balafoutis and Lindt worker Paolo Vassallo after the three men noticed a green button at one of the doors.

Yesterday, Mr O'Brien told the ABC he was forced to put his hands up against the cafe window by his captor, but told him he was too tired and needed to sit down.

The man he now knows to be Man Haron Monis demanded that he lie on the floor during the ordeal. Mr O'Brien said he refused and told his captor that he was too old to do that.

The keen tennis player had been exercising to de-stress after the incident, but said as time moved on he was struggling to come to terms with what happened.

"Just playing tennis at midday then relaxing and trying to get some more sleep. I've been very stressed again this morning. I was feeling a little better last night but I'm a little more stressed this morning."

Two hostages run for cover behind a policeman.

John O'Brien, far left, runs for cover behind a policeman. Photo: AFP

Thousands of people have laid flowers near the Martin Place cafe.

Since the siege ended, thousands of people have laid flowers near the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Martin Place. Photo: AAP

Hostages run out of the a cafe in the central business district of Sydney.

Other hostages managed to escape from the cafe. Photo: AFP

Armed police outside the cafe where a gunman took people captive in central Sydney.

Armed police outside the cafe during the 16-hour standoff. Photo: AFP

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