Family and friends pay tribute to Sydney siege victims

Cafe manager Tori Johnson and barrister Katrina Dawson die after stand-off

People lay flowers and write in condolence books in memory of those killed in a siege in Sydney. Video: Reuters


The two hostages who were killed in the Sydney cafe siege have been remembered as heroes by friends, family and strangers.

The dramatic 16-hour stand-off at the Lindt Chocolat Cafe, in Martin Place in the heart of the city’s financial and legal district, came to a bloody end in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

It is believed police stormed the building after 50-year-old “lone gunman” and self-styled Muslim cleric Man Horan Monis fired shots.

Three people including Monis were killed, and five of the hostages were rushed to hospital.

One of those who escaped earlier in the siege was treated at St Vincent’s Hospital, but officials said it was related to a pre-existing condition and a hospital spokesman yesterday described the man’s condition as “satisfactory”.

Police are offering psychological support to all 15 of the surviving hostages, while Sydney residents have placed masses of bouquets and handwritten tributes at the scene of the carnage.

The cafe’s manager, Tori Johnson, and Katrina Dawson, a barrister who worked nearby, were pronounced dead in hospital.

Mr Johnson’s parents, Ken and Rosemary, released a statement saying: “We are so proud of our beautiful boy Tori, gone from this Earth but forever in our memories as the most amazing life partner, son and brother we could ever wish for.

“We feel heartfelt sorrow for the family of Katrina Dawson.

“We’d like to thank not only our friends and loved ones for their support, but the people of Sydney, Australia and those around the world for reaching out with their thoughts and prayers.”

The family requested privacy and added: “Let us all pray for peace on Earth.”

Mr Johnson (34) had been at the company for two years, Lindt Australia chief executive Steve Loane said.

Mr Loane said: “By nature he was a perfectionist and he had a genuine passion for the hospitality industry and people. He was a really important part of our management team in Australia and his loss is absolutely tragic.

“Our thoughts are with his family and we will do all that we can to provide ongoing support and help for them during this very difficult time.”

News Corporation Australia reported Mr Johnson was killed trying to wrestle a gun from Monis after spotting the hostage-taker doze off.

Ms Dawson, described as a rising legal star, was reportedly killed trying to protect a pregnant friend from her chambers, Julie Taylor.

Both Ms Taylor and another pregnant woman taken hostage have been assessed at hospital and declared stable, police have confirmed.

Writing in Fairfax Media’s Sydney Morning Herald, Ms Dawson’s childhood friend, Molly Hutcherson, said: “She was certainly clever but, much more than this, she was unwaveringly loyal, warm and kind ... She was very generous with her time, knowledge and friendship, and her children will certainly understand only this - that their Mummy was dedicated to them, and, despite the express career train she was on, she nevertheless found time for each of them.

“Katrina was one of our best and brightest barristers who will be greatly missed by her colleagues and friends,” said Jane Needham, president of the New South Wales Bar Association.

Ms Dawson is survived by her husband, three children, and family including her brother, prominent media lawyer Sandy Dawson.

Police have also released details of those survivors who were injured and taken to hospital.

A 75-year-old woman who was shot in the shoulder and a 52-year-old woman who was shot in the foot remain in a stable condition.

Also in a stable condition in hospital is a 43-year-old woman, believed to be Westpac bank worker Marcia Mikhael, who was shot in the leg.

Friends and family took to Facebook to share their relief that Ms Mikhael had survived the ordeal.

“Thank you God!! For all those who have contacted and prayed for us - thank you. My auntie Marcia Mikhael is safe and away from harm. Thoughts are with the injured hostages,” Christine Mikhael wrote.

George Mourad said: “God answered our prayers.”

A 39-year-old police officer who suffered a gunshot graze to his cheek has been treated and discharged from hospital.

Patrick Dela Cruz Laubenia, who described himself on Facebook as survivor Harriette Denny’s nephew, described the hours-long siege as a “very traumatic experience” but said he was thankful his relative had made it out unhurt.