9 Feb 2015

Sydney siege hostages tell of ordeal

11:17 am on 9 February 2015

Sydney cafe siege survivor Marcia Mikhael has criticised the police operation for spending too much time just watching and waiting.

Speaking on television about her ordeal, Marcia Mikhael, 43, said she had been left wondering how at the end of the crisis manager Tori Johnson and mother of three Katrina Dawson were among the dead.

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

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

Marcia Mikhael

Marcia Mikhael Photo: AAP / Supplied

The gunman, Man Haron Monis, was killed when police stormed the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place to end the siege in December last year.

"Why is it that I have two legs that kind of don't work right now?" said Ms Mikhael, who was injured during gunfire.

"I feel like I'm being treated like a criminal myself. I can't get my police statement, they won't give it to me." she told Channel Seven on Sunday night. "Yes I'm angry."

Ms Mikhael, who was reportedly paid more than $A300,000 for the interview, 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.

Ms 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."

Eight hostages so far have sold their stories to commercial television networks in a ratings battle believed to be worth millions.

Hostage considered attacking gunman

Another of the victims described told Channel Nine's 60 Minutes how he considered attacking the gunman.

Cafe employee Jarrod Hoffman, 19, said he and colleague Joel Herat, 21, at one point considered whether they would be able to overpower Monis to end the siege in Martin Place in December last year.

Mr Hoffman had a Stanley knife in his pocket from cutting up boxes earlier in the morning.

He said he knew something was not right when his manager, Tori Johnson, asked him to lock the cafe as Monis had demanded.

"I gave him [Mr Herat] a Stanley knife ... just in case," Mr Hoffman said. "I said, 'Just be careful'."

Monis told the hostages he had a bomb in his backpack, which he did not take off during the siege.

At several points during the siege, Monis threatened to shoot people for various reasons.

"He was right below me sitting on the lounge," Mr Hoffman told 60 Minutes.

"I thought, 'Do I stab him? What if I miss? What are the consequences of that? ... Who is he going to shoot? He could kill us all.'

Two hostages run for cover behind a policeman.

John O'Brien (left) and Stefan Balafouti waited for the gunman to be distracted and fled the cafe Photo: AFP

In an interview broadcast at the same time on Channel Seven, 83-year-old customer John O'Brien told Sunday Night about the moment he managed to open a door to allow himself and another hostage to escape.

"I waited for him [Monis] to be a little bit distracted, then we made a move and I sat on the floor, turned onto my left side and then I crawled over behind the Lindt coffee sign," Mr O'Brien said.

"I crawled over and pushed the green button."

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


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