60 Minutes is running for two hours with a special devoted to The Siege Survivors.
On Monday, December 15, 2014, gunman Man Monis took control of the Lindt Café in Martin Place, Sydney, holding 18 people hostage. Next Sunday on Channel Nine, a 60 Minutes special report will tell the whole story of what happened inside the café, according to the hostages who saw it all.
Eight of the survivors have told their story to Liz Hayes, and for the first time they reveal their detailed and harrowing accounts of the terrifying ordeal, and how they fought for their survival.
Paolo Vassallo, 36, father of two
Lindt Café Kitchen Supervisor
Paolo started work at the Lindt Café in the same week as Tori Johnson in October 2012. They were close friends. That morning his two children (one three, one six months old) and his wife were still asleep when he left for work, and he didn’t get to say goodbye. That would play on Paolo’s mind as he struggled with his decision to make a run for it. When John O’Brien and Stefan Balafoutis escaped out the front door, Paolo took his chance.
Harriette Denny, 30, secretly pregnant
Lindt Café Barista
Harriette would arrive for work every morning half an hour early to have coffee with Tori before preparing to open the café. She is the mother hen of the café workers, who was also 14 weeks pregnant. Only one other person in the café knew Harriette was carrying a child.
Joel Herat, 21, student
Joel was running late for work that day. He was in the kitchen when Monis took control of the café, and was passed a knife and scissors by Jarrod Morton-Hoffman and told “we might need these”. Joel would facilitate hostage videos being uploaded to YouTube and social media.
Jarrod Morton-Hoffman, 19, student
Despite having worked at the café for 10 months it was Jarrod’s first ever morning shift. Jarrod would prove to be the crucial link between police negotiators and Monis, repeatedly calming him down through the course of the day and evening. There were numerous moments when Jarrod could have escaped but he chose to stay with his friends.
With Monis extremely agitated, Jarrod, Joel and Harriette eventually made a run for it at 2.03am on Tuesday, December 16.
Fiona Ma, 19, student
It was Fiona’s sixth shift at the café. She was going to switch shifts with her sister but decided against it the night before. That morning her pants hadn’t dried from washing, so she contemplated being late for work, but decided instead to show up on time with damp pants. Fiona served Monis cake and tea before the siege began. Early on she was chosen by Monis to be his helper, fetching food and water for other hostages and escorting them to the bathroom. Fiona also had numerous chances to escape but chose not to. She eventually slid out the door only moments before police stormed in.
Selina Win Pe, 43
Senior Manager, Digital at Westpac
Selina does not like Lindt chocolate and rarely drinks hot chocolate, but on this morning she chose hot chocolate over coffee, and thought she’d pick up some Christmas presents for colleagues at the same time. Selina was forced to make phone calls to the media and appear in hostage videos. She was threatened with her life on several occasions as Monis became more enraged. Monis was about to execute her when he was distracted by a noise outside. Towards the end Monis warned her she had 15 minutes to get the street lights turned off or he would kill her. Selina was in the Lindt Café when police stormed in.
Louisa Hope, 52, suffering from MS, and her mother Robin Hope, 72
Louisa and Robin were seated in the café when Monis took control. With limited mobility there was never a consideration that Louisa could try to escape, and Robin would find running difficult too, so mother and daughter formed a solemn bond not to leave each other. Robin and Louisa were used as human shields by Monis through much of the day, and were side by side with Tori Johnson at the very end. They were in the café when police stormed in, and Louisa is still in hospital recovering from her injuries.
Revealing eight different perspectives from inside the café, 60 Minutes will present the most comprehensive account of the terrible events that unfolded over 16 hours during the Lindt siege that changed Australia forever.
60 Minutes Special Report: The Siege Survivors 6:30 PM Sunday, February 8, On Channel Nine