The deaths of Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson in the Lindt café terrorist attack left Australia grieving deeply for the innocent lives that were so cruelly stolen – but no one felt the tragedy more deeply than the pair’s family and friends.
Now Tori’s mother Rosie Connellan has spoken out for the first time since the inquest into the atrocity began – revealing in heartbreaking detail why she had had to change her views on what actually happened when gunman Man Haron Monis’ reign of terror came to its chilling climax.
Distressed over the belief that police brass decided not to intervene until a hostage had been murdered by the terrorist, she tells the ABC’s 4 Corners program, "I'll never be able to understand how you can make a calculated decision that you wait for someone to die.
"We thought that Monis had killed Tori and, you know, it was relatively simple: the police had done everything possible and that was it. As [the inquest] unfolded it was just, it was horrific. Every day we thought: 'This can't get worse' and every day it got worse -- what was coming out in evidence."
An unnamed police commander told the inquest that a decision was made not to intervene earlier, because Monis was at the time claiming to have a large bomb, and it was feared he’d make good on threats to set it off if police stormed the building, killing all of the hostages.
Tori’s grieving life partner Thomas Zinn has added the chorus of disbelief over the inquest’s revelations, confessing he has lost trust in the police.
"I have no trust because of the great level of incompetence that has been revealed," he says.
Katrina’s father Sandy shares the distress at what the inquest has exposed about police tactics during the siege.
"[We wanted them] to admit the mistakes and then talk about what they would do to rectify those mistakes. But we never saw anything like that."
Amid growing criticism of the police handling of the incident, police association executive member Tony King has spoken out about what he perceives as a ‘witch hunt’.
"The reason these people died was that Man Monis was out on bail - for reasons that still haven't been explained," said King in a statement.
During the inquest, the unnamed police commander in charge said of his decision not to intervene earlier: "Three people lost their lives because of me, my decision, I can't change that.
"Every day I think about that ... I rack through my head, what could I have done differently. But I could never mitigate the risk of the bomb."
This article originally appeared on New Idea