Lindt Bomb squad: ‘Threat was and is always very real’

 

For hours, the Rescue and Bomb Disposal Unit had been watching the siege unfold inside the Lindt Cafe, assessing if and when an explosion would occur.

The wires protruding from gunman Man Haron Monis's large backpack supported claims he was carrying an improvised explosive device.

Police estimated the bag could contain between two and four kilograms of explosives, enough to kill everyone inside the cafe and any officers trying to rescue them.

Members of the Rescue and Bomb Disposal Unit will receive valour awards for their response to the Lindt Cafe siege. Picture: Bill Hearne
Members of the Rescue and Bomb Disposal Unit will receive valour awards for their response to the Lindt Cafe siege. Picture: Bill Hearne

Adding to the risk was the fear simply shooting Monis would set off a dead man's switch.

Throughout the day the RBDU and the Tactical Operations Unit analysed potential outcomes from peaceful resolution to catastrophic destruction.

But police were left with no choice but to storm the cafe, at great personal risk, after Monis executed hostage Tori Johnson in the early hours of December 16, 2014.


After shooting Monis, the TOU scooped injured hostages off the floor and rushed them outside while the RBDU got ready to head into harm's way and defuse the bomb.

"The threat was and is always very real," the unit told The Sunday Telegraph in a joint statement.

A Rescue and Bomb Disposal Unit officer and bomb robot prepare to enter Lindt Cafe. Daniel Munoz/Getty Images
A Rescue and Bomb Disposal Unit officer and bomb robot prepare to enter Lindt Cafe. Daniel Munoz/Getty Images

"Information and images received from inside the cafe went a long way to support claims that there was a bomb inside the offender's backpack.

"This method of incorporating improvised explosive devices with armed attacks is regularly seen in other parts of the world and something we train for."

“The threat was and is always very real”, the unit told The Sunday Telegraph.
“The threat was and is always very real”, the unit told The Sunday Telegraph.

After 2am, one officer, who can't be legally identified, dressed in an explosive ordinance disposal unit walked into the cafe while a bomb response robot followed.

A photograph of the sole officer stepping into the carnage of the cafe became one of iconic images of the siege.

Carefully stepping over shattered glass, upturned tables and blood, the bomb disposal officer reached over the body of Monis, unzipped his backpack and discovered the bomb was a stereo speaker and electrical wires - a fake.

The bravery showed by the RBDU officers in entering the cafe with the belief the bomb could explode at any moment will earn them a Commissioner's Award for Valour this week.

The bomb squad prepares to enter the cafe after the TOU shot dead gunman Man Monis. Picture: Daniel Munoz
The bomb squad prepares to enter the cafe after the TOU shot dead gunman Man Monis. Picture: Daniel Munoz

The unit has been involved in some of NSW's most high-risk investigations, including the collar bomb case involving Mosman teen Madeleine Pulver in 2011 and defusing a chemical bomb found on a packed Sydney passenger train in 2000.

But the Lindt Cafe siege brought a new level of complexity to their work, "both operationally and emotionally".

Like other frontline police units, the impact of the job has weighed heavily on some - one bomb disposal officer has left the police force because of it.

NSW Police dog handler Leo Clarke, with his police dog Demon, will receive a valour award.
NSW Police dog handler Leo Clarke, with his police dog Demon, will receive a valour award.

While the valour awards recognise the officer's actions, it also signifies the courage shown by the 18 innocent members of the public who had no choice but to be involved, the unit said.

Tactical dog handler Leading Senior Constable Leo Clarke will receive a valour award for being on the frontline of the siege with his dog Demon, including when the TOU went inside the cafe.

A Traffic and Highway Patrol officer who was first on scene will also receive the police force's highest honour.

Sarah Stephens Instagram. sarahstephens7

 

This officer had to clear the cafe for explosives. Picture: Daniel Munoz
This officer had to clear the cafe for explosives. Picture: Daniel Munoz


Public nuisance offender was ‘trying to help a mate’

Premium Content Public nuisance offender was ‘trying to help a mate’

He became involved in an incident at a popular Gladstone pub.

100 cereal boxes donated to school breakfast clubs

Premium Content 100 cereal boxes donated to school breakfast clubs

A GLADSTONE cafe is ensuring no student goes hungry in the mornings, offering free...

Motorbike confusion lands couple in front of magistrate

Premium Content Motorbike confusion lands couple in front of magistrate

Their lawyer said the couple was under the impression they didn’t need to register...