by Dee McLachlan
While I was directing a movie in rural NSW, Mary Maxwell was attending some of the Sydney siege Inquest hearings, and covered the Martin Place event in a 35 part series of Gumshoe articles.
Recently I was inspired to write “Welcome to a Front Row Seat at the Sydney Siege Theatre” about the failure of the police negotiators. They failed to speak with the hostage taker, Man Haron Monis, in SIXTEEN hours.
I pointed out that the first rule in a hostage crisis is to try talk to the hostage taker. The ABC reported on 15 December 2015, that:
“Commissioner Scipione confirmed police were negotiating with the gunman and were focused on resolving the stand-off as safely as possible.”
We now know that this was a blatant LIE by the commissioner. It surfaced onto the ABC “in real time.” It is just not possible that incompetence led to this. Negotiators have spoken with many hostage takers before. So what was going on?
Today I raise a different matter.
In one of Mary Maxwell’s articles she pointed out that audio surveillance of the cafe had begun around 7.30pm that evening after a bug was planted. Or so the Inquest was told.
But wait, think about it. If they could listen in, they would hear what Monis was saying, and what each hostage was saying. There should have been no mystery about the goings-on.
Here is what the dailytelegraph reported:
“As well as three snipers with views into the cafe, an audio surveillance device had been secretly fitted the night before so police could hear what was going on inside the cafe.”
Recall that the siege began around 9.45am on December 15, 2014 and ended when the police stormed in at 16 and a half hours later at 2.15am on December 16th. Thus in the above quote the phrase “the night before” means that the police were able to install it by evening of the 15th.
There is no secret, then, that the police could overhear Monis and the others.
But yesterday I happened to watch a snippet of a documentary that Channel Nine did on the siege, and heard a snippet of the surveillance audio!
The audio begins at 6:10 in the video below.
Jarrod Morton-Hoffman and Monis are talking about “printing a flag.” Monis even seems to laugh – you can hear him.
HOSTAGE: “If you let the pregnant lady go, I’ll print you a flag”
MONIS: “Ha ha. If you don’t…”
HOSTAGE: “I’ll print you a hundred. I’ll paint anything.”
MONIS: “The point is that they will bring the one flag here.”
What time was did that conversation take place? I don’t know. According to the mention of 7.30 above, we should believe it happened rather late in the siege.
But it occurred to me: Would they be talking about the flag issue nine hours or so after the world was told that the gunman was demanding a flag. Hadn’t he given up on this tack by now?
More likely I think, this conversation was audio-recorded earlier in the day, when Monis was asking for a flag, and was optimistically waiting for one.
My questions for Commissioner Scipione:
- When was the audio bug planted?
- Where was it planted?
- And may Gumshoe be given the audio tape? (You obviously released this piece to Channel 9)
If you don’t answer these questions Commissioner, maybe Jarrod will tell us what time he had this conversation.