Home Siege Lindt Café Inquest, Part 5 – The July 11, 2016 Hearings Elucidate...

Lindt Café Inquest, Part 5 – The July 11, 2016 Hearings Elucidate the Storming of the Café

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marrtin place

 Ms Sophie Callan, Counsel Assisting, Siege Inquest

 by Mary W Maxwell, PhD, LLB

The court was open from 10am to 4pm – “open” meaning not in private closed court. However the six of us in the gallery were not able to see the witness box, in which sat the Police officer who led Charlie Team in the assault of the café at 2.13am.  We could see, on a screen, Miss Callan, the Counsel Assisting, and hear her very sensible questioning, and the witness’s replies.

Note: I have learned that the media are in another room, although that room may be empty. Any reporter there can see only what we galleristas can see, on a screen.

Dennis Albrecht — So To Speak

Today’s witness has the Inquest code name “Delta Alpha.” I will – capriciously — translate that to “Dennis Albrecht,” as the word “alpha” also comes up frequently today meaning other things.

For instance, one of the assault teams is called Alpha Team. That team was standing at the nearby Jordan Library when the call came to rush the Café. It was their men that fired all the shots including a shot of Monis that removed “a large part of the left side of his head” — according to Dennis Albrecht.

I managed to transcribe every word today, but will not type it all up (unless required to do so). Instead I will choose what I think were the most significant bits. I am a little worried that the questions may have been aimed at showing that the ADF would have been a better handler of the crisis.

That was not a theme that I picked up, yet I have just read the entire Yahoo.com.au article on today’s hearing (July 11) and that is what they emphasized.

In the morning, the questions were about what occurred on the siege day afternoon (say, up to 5pm). Our man, Dennis, was made leader of the Charlie Team. He spent the time going around to his “guys” to keep them informed and to pick up information from them.

He also frequently traveled (not very far) to the Forward Command Post that got set up in the Leagues Club, after they had first occupied a police bus.

Who Decided When To End the Siege?

The most interesting point of the morning session seemed to be Dennis’s revelation that there was someone higher than the Commander, a Canberra person who had to be obeyed. (Well, that’s most interesting to me anyway.)

Ms Callan focused on Dennis’s understanding of what would warrant a forcible entry to the Café. (Note: the Café is referred to in the Inquest as “the stronghold” and Monis is referred to as “the terrorist.”  I will say Café and Monis.)

She specifically asked him What are the Standard Triggers to end a hostage siege? He said “the death or serious injury of a hostage are well established as the standard triggers.” Then she extracted from Dennis that he had heard early in the day that the Tactical Commander (TC) and Deputy TC told him that these would not be triggers for this siege.

Ms Callan pumped Dennis as to “What were your thoughts on that oddity?” He kept coming back with generalities such as “It differs from how we learned it in training.” Dennis diplomatically stated:  “I had complete faith that the Commander would do whatever was necessary to save the lives of the hostages.”

In short we never got to hear this team leader say “Naturally I was pissed off that they were changing the rules.”  Or “How dare they use us in a situation that did not accord with all our training!” (Note: I am unfairly dropping those remarks into this reporting, but it did seem to me that they were there, unspoken.)

The Video of the Entry through the Red Door

Several times in today’s afternoon session, Ms Callan (who is part of the Inquest staff) and Mr Michael O’Connell, QC (who represents the Dawson family) asked Dennis to compare what his narrative is today with what he said at an investigatory “walk through” of the crime scene that took place on January 6, 2015.

Dennis several times admitted that his recollection today is colored at least a little bit by reports in the press, and also by having seen, in this courtroom, a replay of the storming of the stronghold.

Galleristas, too, got to see this video. I believe it was described as coming from Channel Seven’s camera, yet it appears to have existed in the ceiling of the “fire well.” I am referring to the area between the fire doors and the red door. A ‘red’ door need not be of rouge hue; rather each of the four walls of the café is given a color code.

I assume the terms used (white wall, red wall, green wall, black wall) are standard for describing a crime scene. In our case the famous front side of the Lindt Café that faces onto Martin Place is called the white wall.

The two points of entry after 2am were through the white door (for Alpha Team) and through the red door, for Team Charlie as led by “Dennis Albrecht.”

Note: at one point in open court the witness, Dennis, inadvertently uttered an officer’s real surname. The police lawyer objected and the judge then made an immediate order for non-publication of the name.

The Termination of the Siege

Back to the subject of Standard Triggers. Despite Ms Callan asking Dennis several times what the triggers were going to be, for that day, he could not come up with anything. She also unsuccessfully tried to see what he, Dennis, had said to his TC or Deputy TC about this.

Nonetheless, a moment did arrive when the decision was made to storm the Café. It seems to have occurred after the last batch of hostages escaped around 2am (about 6 of them; there were 5 earlier ones; this left 7 more in situ, plus Monis). A shot was fired by the terrorist as they left.

Dennis noted that the shot demonstrated two things: One, that Monis had a functioning firearm, and Two that he had shot way above their heads into the glass panel, apparently not trying to kill anyone.

At this point Dennis was asked if he ever saw Tori Johnson kneeling down (to be killed by Monis) as has been stated by at least one hostage. Dennis said No.  Granted, Dennis came onto the scene after that could have occurred.

When Dennis entered the café he saw something that made him think “I must kill the terrorist.” But he cannot recall what it was. He cannot say for sure that he saw Monis holding a gun.

(By the way, FWIW, we in the gallery could not see body language, but I took Dennis to be an honest bloke from his tone of voice. His honesty is also conveyed to me when he makes a long pause, not wanting to answer some particular question.)

A Woman Is Not a Pillar

Dennis described his first visual cognizance of the café as being in total darkness. He saw right in front of him what he thought was a pillar but then he used the torch on his gun to view the ‘pillar’ and saw that it was a woman dressed in black. (I believe this is hostage Laura Hope who was sitting in the gallery today and who got a good chuckle from that.)

He told her “Get down, get down” but she did not move so he went around her. He saw Monis standing in back of her but facing the other way. The judge interjected a question How much distance between you and the woman?  Answer: “Less than a meter.”  How much distance between the woman and Monis?  “Very close.”

Dennis got down on one knee to get out of the line of fire between Alpha Team and himself. But then it was all over. He used his torch to look at Monis – he saw that Monis had fallen to the ground and was obviously deceased. Dennis called out “Cease fire, cease fire, cease fire.’ The lights then went on. (Ms Callan did not ask who turned them on.)

The Christmas Lights

Speaking of lights, I think I noticed a discrepancy in today’s testimony that the Inquest staff did not catch. (By the way, Ms Callan is extremely on-the-ball and so far my sense is that she is honest and impartial.)

You may recall that the Police Negotiator, testifying in June, said he had not got word of Selina Win Pe’s phone calls – which she had made at 9.30pm to the 000 emergency line and also to a special line. The gist of that day’s hearing was that Selina felt it was very dangerous not to cooperate with Monis.

Today, Dennis related that his guys were unhappy with the way the flickering Christmas lights in Martin Place hampered their vision, as did the traffic lights. They wanted them turned off. When he told his superiors about the man’s request he was advised that the lights could become a matter for negotiation.

I think I heard Dennis say he was unaware of Monis’s demand to have the lights turned out!  But in the Negotiator’s testimony it was admitted that by 12.30am the negotiators were aware of Monis’s demand. So why does Dennis not take an interest in the oddity?  I do not know.

To Wear Ear Protection or Not

A new matter was brought up at the end of the day, by Mr O’Connell, on behalf of Katrina’s Dawson’s family. He suggested that the Charlie team that entered the red door had first heard many moments of flashbangs (perhaps 21 seconds’ worth; this was disputed by the police lawyer).

These came from an SF-9 that is very loud and can affect a person’s hearing or even throw his balance off. Team leader Dennis Albrecht (that is, today’s police witness code-named ‘DA’) said he chose not to wear ear-protection and made it optional for his men to use it.

(I wonder, if they had earplugs how would they be able to hear the important message “Cease fire, cease fire”?)

For now I’ll summarize the main “problem” raised in the coroner’s court on this day, July 11. Police officer and team leader Dennis was not given updated instructions throughout the day as to what the latest plans were for ending the siege, and he was specifically told that the Standard Triggers were not in effect. The standard triggers for ending a siege are: the death or serious injury of a hostage.

I forgot to mention that “Dennis” said this: When the first three male hostages escaped (around 3.30pm) they were taken to the Leagues Club to be debriefed. They stated that Monis was a serious threat and that he did intend to kill hostages.

— Mary Maxwell, despite all evidence to the contrary, does not like sleuthing. She does not want to study murders. Still if they are thrown in her lap she deals with them.  Please read about several amazing murder cases in her book Fraud Upon the Court.

 

Photo credit: nswbar.asn.au
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17 COMMENTS

  1. “The most interesting point of the morning session seemed to be Dennis’s revelation that there was someone higher than the Commander, a Canberra person who had to be obeyed.”

    Damn right that is an interesting point. If this ‘Canberra person’ was so important, how come he/she didn’t arrive on scene to make decisions directly to the police in real time. Crikey, there are lives in the balance, things happen quickly – but hey, let me get on the phone and see what the wonks in Canberra think.

    You have a tactical police operation in progress, which has been told that SOPs will not apply AND ‘someone in Canberra’ will be making the decisions. – Red flags

    My gut feeling is this operation didn’t go as planned, it turned into a flustercluck that had to be managed.

    Earplugs – there are earplugs that are essentially hearing aides. Over a certain decibel level the hearing aides block the sound. Since they are hearing aides, they can be turned up to improve hearing and then also used to block out excessive noise.

    • Thank you Terry and Berry. The place in which it was suggested that the loud noise could disorient the men was not the cafe but the ‘firewell’ (a perfect square, I think, guessing 2mx2m max) in between the fire door from which they entered from the street and the so-called red door into the cafe proper.

      Mr O’Connell hinted that “Dennis” did not work fast enough to get into the cafe once the signal was given. O’Connell counted 21 seconds; the police lawyer, Ian Freckleton, QC, corrected that to 19 seconds. Conceivably the noise problem slowed Dennis and the other Charlie Team members down.

      Dennis admitted to losing a few seconds to the task of reaching up to his helmet to remove his night vision goggles.

  2. According to my youngest son there are two kinds of hearing protection, passive & active.

    The application of passive protection is limited in as much as it does nothing more than reduce sounds that reach the ear canal by means of some kind of obstruction

    Active protection incorporates a highly refined microphone – speaker system within the ear cups. Necessary sounds(such as commands) can be heard, harmful ones( such as gunfire) blocked.

    According to the footage of the Police who stormed the Lindt Cafe the latest audio controlled gear was used: They would have been able to hear commands whilst being protected from damaging sound levels.

    Why wasn’t Albrecht quizzed accordingly? His suggestion that essential combat gear was “optional” doesn’t exactly add up.

    • Because of Occupational Hazard legislation and workmen’s compensation. He made it optional to cover his butt, but I doubt if any of them wore the devices.

      A ‘hearing aide’ type ear protection has advantages in some situations, obviously at the range, however being a guard at night or walking ‘point’ it can allow you to pick up more sounds.

      In the close quarters of the Cafe’ the devices would be continuously blocking out information that their senses would need to be processing. Their sub-conscious mind would be doing the filtering and they wanted full input.

      • The ear protection issue is irrelevant, this is not a worker’s compensation claim. The inquiry is to find out what happened during the siege.

        What did this Sophie Callen do when she got the clanger about someone in Canberra calling the shots. Did she go after further information? – Who was this? Is he going to give evidence? Why would he stay in Canberra (plausible deniability for any ‘misunderstandings’)? Why did he override the standard operating procedures? Did the Commander already give evidence and ‘forgot’ to mention this person?

        If this ‘Canberra person’ never gives evidence you know it is a cover-up, a sham inquiry. Hell, at this point you don’t even know who that person is.

        • “One, that Monis had a functioning firearm, and Two that he had shot way above their heads into the glass panel, apparently not trying to kill anyone.”

          So, the objective evidence is that Monis wasn’t trying to kill anyone.

  3. Terry, I have just cancelled this morning’s new article so we can concentrate on your primal scream (below, July 18 at 8.52am)

    Too right!

    The mills of God grind a bit too slowly. In 1996 we had a massacre in Tasmania. A decade later Andrew MacGregor published, in 2006, the fact that SAC-PAV in Canberra was running the police show that day. And after another leisurely decade, I got around to reading MacGregor’s item — in 2016. Let’s speed things up a bit re the Lindt café Inquest.

    And what is SAC-PAV? The ultimate in Orwellian terminology: Standing Advisory Committee for Protection against Violence.

    On page 204 of our book “Port Arthur: Enough Is Enough,” I say “When shooting started at Seascape, the local police asked Victoria for help, as a ‘hostage situation’ triggers mutual aid among the states. It also JUSTIFIES federal involvement.”

    On page 143, which lists the Dramatis Personae, we see:
    “PJ Allen, constable who said in his police statement that he, and other officers, were shot at FROM DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS while they were in front of Seascape cottage,” Hello! Hello! Martin Bryant does not have bi-locating among his many talents, does he?

    Page 143 also lists “Alan Hodges, Director General of Emergency Management Australia”. So now I google for EMA and get https://www.facebook.com/AEMInstitute

    It says EMA is under the Attorney-General’s Department. Cough, cough, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, scream, scream. Why did I think “attorney general” had something to do with attorney, as in law? Why do I continue to think law has something to do with law? (The photos on the FB page have to do with natural disasters such as storms.)

    Thank you, Dee “Stand-downs are key” McLachlan.
    Thank you, Terry “Law has not died yet” Shulze.

    • Mac had already written up the SAC-PAV and EMA information back in 1999 when I read it. He actually had more on those connections than he did on the massacre evidence. I was more interested in the massacre evidence, I already knew the government was up to its neck in all this as I had been dealing with some of the people he referred to.

      The EMA documents have an interesting comment, perhaps you may find it. When referring to the Mikac tragedy they refer to it as a “win win situation”.

        • On page 43 of my sensational 2011 book “Prosecution for Treason” (free download), we find:

          EXECUTIVE ORDERS, OUT!
          More than one half of the Constitution is occupied by its first
          Article, the article that invests Congress with authority. Authority to do what? To make laws. Neither of the other two branches is given that authority. A US president can never make law. Actually there is one exception. In Hampton v US (1928), the US Supreme Court said Congress could, in minor matters, leave part of a law open, specifically asking the executive to “fill up the details.”

          In 1979, President Carter signed an EO that illegally delegated
          ‘presidential’ powers to an organization called FEMA that Congress had never authorized in the first place! FEMA was part of a secret operation run by Gen Alexander Haig and Col Oliver North from the White House basement during the Iran-Contra affair of 1986.

          FEMA – Empowered by Pres Carter’s Executive Order 12148:
          “By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, including the Federal Civil Defense Act of 1950, as amended, (Disaster Relief Act of 1974, the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, the National Security Act of 1947… the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended… [etc.]… it is hereby ordered as follows: … ALL FUNCTIONS VESTED IN THE PRESIDENT by [the above Acts] are delegated, TRANSFERRED, or reassigned to the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Signed July 20, 1979.” — [emphasis added]

          Congress should have put paid to this caper right away. Then, if the president did not cooperate, he should have been impeached. – end of my quote.
          (Note: under its Westminster system Oz does not have such separation of executive and legislative branches of government.)

  4. PLEASE USE CAUTION HERE. I am not sure of my handwritten notes. If I use a double “??” that means the word is unclear: I AM GUESSING. So why quote at all? Because Terry has said this is important. (Of course there will be transcripts.) C is Ms Callen; D is the head of Charlie Team, whom I call Dennis:

    C Why did it surprise you that they used conf??
    D. Because I had been in the past standard triggers
    C. Standard triggers?
    D. There were no triggers in place.
    C. Did that seems strange to you?
    D. No because I had total faith in in the decision of my commander that standards were met.
    C. Up until that conversation you believed in.. tel??
    D. Standard triggers. I didn’t follow up.
    C. You had followed up? Didn’t you think you needed to get to the bottom of this ?
    D. I had no responsibility regarding the … that was for the tactical commander. It was not my role to initiate.
    C. You left the conference thinking there were no triggers in place?
    D. None had been conveyed to me. They are standard…
    C. What did you do about it?
    D. I didn’t press the matter, even if I had…
    C. Did you talk of a high command handling {when?] we will enter?
    D. I thought tactical commander could tell…
    C. And if a hostage was under a risk?
    D. Yes, the standard triggers would be obeyed.

      • I’m sorry I don’t know, Terry. I think not. During the current week (while I am in Adelaide) they are hosting some experts from the UK on the subject of “negotiating”. Can you imagine it!

        The decision on whether to interrogate Commissioner Andrew Scipione or Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn seems to be something on which the Coroner will announce his decision soon. The families are pleading for it.

        July 25 and 26 are for cross-examination of Officers A and B who fired all 22 of the shots, or so we are told.

        Such police persons as Andrew Fogarty, Mick Dyson, and Richard McCreadie could be invited to give a general view of hostage situations. From a historical perspective as it were.

        Later tonight, dv, Gumshoe will upload Joe Paul’s intro to the Port Arthur Seminar papers of 1997.

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