Lessons learned during the August 2011 collar-bomb case in Sydney helped a NSW police officer to respond to the Lindt cafe siege.
Superintendent Allan Sicard told the inquest on Monday he knew almost immediately as the incident on December 15, 2014, unfolded, that it was legitimate.
He had initially been briefed that there were eight hostages, but after speaking to the first officers on the scene, including Senior Constable Paul Withers, learned the full extent of the situation.
He said Sen Const Withers was distressed but had “quite amazing detail” from his brief look through the windows into the Martin Place cafe, where he witnessed a dozen witnesses, Man Haron Monis with a shotgun and a backpack with wires sticking out.
“He was looking at the hostages, the hostages were looking at him imploringly and that was his great distress, it was quite obvious,” Supt Sicard told the inquest.
He said his commanding role in the collar-bomb case, when Paul Peters attached a fake bomb around the neck of Sydney schoolgirl Madeleine Pulver in the family’s Mosman mansion, taught him he had to divorce himself from issues of traffic management to focus on the events inside the cafe.
He also knew to speak to paramedics and firefighters to put in place their emergency plan should the suspected bomb in Monis’ backpack detonate.
Supt Sicard is the first witness to give evidence as the inquest investigation turns to the police management of the siege.
Meanwhile News Corp has reported a police sniper who was in place during the 17-hour crisis believed he had a clear shot of Monis about seven hours before officers stormed the cafe, prompted by Monis’ execution of manager Tori Johnson.
Barrister and mother of three Katrina Dawson also died in the siege after being hit by shrapnel from police rounds when they entered the Martin Place building.