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SYDNEY, Jan 29 AAP - The inquest into the deaths of barrister Katrina Dawson, cafe manager Tori Johnson and gunman Man Monis is underway.
No members of Ms Dawson's family were at Glebe Coroner's court for the opening day on Thursday, but members of Mr Johnson's family were present.
John O'Brien was the only former hostage attending.
State Coroner Michael Barnes acknowledged the horrifying events and said inquiry staff were steadying themselves.
He cautioned people unfamiliar with the court system, saying that if "we appear dispassionate" it didn't mean they were unconcerned.
"If we are focused on matters forensic, do not fear we have forgotten your grief."
He said prioritising the inquiry wouldn't cause others to be delayed, and stressed the court must protect the families and hostages from the further harm which could flow from forcing them to relive the tragic events too soon.
"The desire for urgent answers" must be weighed against the need for reliable evidence, he said.
The court would do everything in its power to ensure a rigorous and searching inquiry.
Monis's partner, Amirah Droudis, is being represented by lawyer Angelo Bilias.
Solicitors for Mr Johnson's and Ms Dawson's families sought leave to appear, as did counsel Ray Hood for "Officer A", whose name cannot be reported.
Greg Willis is appearing for "Officer B" in the cafe siege entry team.
In his opening address, counsel assisting the coroner Jeremy Gormly SC said that by the end of the inquiry, there should be a "high level" of information about what happened on December 15 last year.
"We will most likely have a detailed and comprehensive picture of the siege," he said.
He said the inquest will look at what happened and why, and whether it could have been avoided.
It will also examine whether it had community implications.
"In this case, as in most cases, some facts are not contentious," he said, adding the time and place of deaths is known.
"What needs full examination is manner and cause of each of the deaths of Ms Dawson and Mr Johnson."
Mr Gormly said a lot of the information will come from the hostages, who had gone through an unimaginable experience.
"They are our eyes and ears and memory," he said.

 
Congratulations to nine members of the NSW Police Force who were awarded the Australian Police Medal (APM) by the Governor–General Sir Peter John Cosgrove, AK, MC, in this year’s Australia Day Awards.
The nine recipients of the APM are: Assistant Commissioner Gary Worboys; Detective Superintendent Greig Newbery; Superintendent Clinton Pheeney; Superintendent Karen Webb; Inspector Bruce McGregor; Inspector Mark Hargreaves; Senior Sergeant Leslie Nugent; Sergeant John Keough and Senior Constable Anthony George Bell.
In addition to the APM recipients, Mr Norman Angelkovic will receive a public service medal for outstanding public service through the provision of financial and human resources for the State Crime Command.
Acting NSW Police Commissioner, Catherine Burn, APM, has congratulated the recipients on their nominations and commitment to policing.
“I am tremendously proud to have ten officers — with over 300 years combined service — recognised for their dedication to the NSW Police Force,” Acting Commissioner Burn said.
“These officers are a credit to the NSW Police Force, their colleagues, family, friends and the community.
“The officers bring a wealth of experience and professionalism to the force and I’m happy to thank them for their service and congratulate them on today’s awards. They are all very deserving of recipients.”

By Ava Benny-Morrison
SYDNEY, AAP - A police officer has spent 40 minutes afloat in dangerous seas after jumping in to save two rock fishers on the NSW Central Coast.
A woman was rock fishing with a friend at Lake Munmorah, south of Newcastle, when she was washed into the ocean on Saturday night.
Her friend grabbed a nearby angel ring, one of several dotted along the rocky and dangerous coastline, and tried to save her.
It is understood they were not wearing life jackets.
A local police anti-theft and drug unit was in the area when the call for help came through.
When they arrived, one officer in the team dived into the water and swam out to the struggling couple.
The officer was in the water for 40 minutes while he helped the man and woman stay afloat.
The rescue helicopter winched the woman out first but the officer stayed with the man in the ocean until water police arrived and took them both to shore.
The woman was taken to John Hunter Hospital where she died on Monday night.
"It's a very good act. The situation could have been a lot worse," Tuggerah Lakes Inspector Dan Skelly said.
Insp Skelly said the officer was familiar with the dangerous fishing spot and opted to wait in the water rather than risk clambering over the rocks.
"It's a dangerous area that has claimed a lot of lives," he said.
The officer, who has more than 20 years experience in the force, will be recognised for his bravery, Inspector Skelly added.
Two fishermen drowned last April at nearby Wybung Head after they tried to save a friend who was washed into the ocean.
The woman survived but the men both died.
One of the bodies has never been recovered.

SYDNEY, Jan 22 AAP - A man accused of punching a police officer twice in the face after he was caught driving with an expired licence in Sydney has pleaded not guilty to the assault.
Police say Ausamah Alnimer was pulled over in Ashcroft in Sydney's southwest for a random breath test on December 27 and was soon discovered to be driving on an expired licence.
As officers tried to issue him with a notice, the 20-year-old allegedly tried to drive away.
When he was stopped at a nearby intersection, police say Alnimer became abusive, got out of his ute and pushed a senior constable before punching him twice in the face.
Alnimer pleaded not guilty to numerous charges, including assaulting the police officer and affray when he appeared at Liverpool Local Court on Wednesday.
He did, however, plead guilty to driving on an expired licence.
His bail was continued with his matter due to return to court in March.
Police say the senior constable was taken to Liverpool Hospital after the alleged attack, suffering injuries to his arm, shoulder and legs but was released shortly after.

By Ava Benny-Morrison
SYDNEY, Jan 21 AAP - Ice is streaming into Australia at an alarming rate with border detections of the destructive drug increasing almost 10 fold. 
Between 2011 and 2014, detections of amphetamine-type substances - including ice - on a commercial scale skyrocketed from 44 to 415.
A single importation of 849kg of ice was seized in a $1.5 billion haul in Sydney last year. However, a commercial quantity can be any amount more than a kilogram.
Over the past three years, the total number of crystal meth busts made by customs officers has jumped from 171 to 1379, according to the service's annual report.
Police are under no illusion about the destruction caused by the drugs that slip through undetected and end up in the hands of addicts.
Ed Daley was one of them. The father-of-two became hooked after using ice with mates in 2005. For the next near-decade Mr Daley battled crippling drug abuse and a damaging gambling addiction.
"It has destroyed me, it's had me in depression for so long," he told AAP. It was never difficult to buy a hit, Mr Daley said, and on some days he would blow up to $600.
Mr Daley has spent the past 15 weeks at The Glen Drug and Alcohol Centre on the NSW Central Coast working on kicking his addiction.
The turning point was losing his father to liver disease from alcoholism. 

SYDNEY, Jan 21 AAP - Police across the country have ramped up security measures amid growing concerns they may be targeted by terrorists.
The threat level specific to police was on Tuesday raised to "high" following recent attacks in France, Australia and Canada, and threats elsewhere, bringing it in line with the national alert level which was changed in September last year, indicating an attack is likely.
However, authorities said on Tuesday there was no specific threat.
Police have been warned to remain vigilant at all times.
Officers in some states will be permitted to take weapons and body armour home, while others are being urged not to openly display their uniforms while travelling to and from work.
NSW police have been told to carry their weapons at all times when in uniform.
The Australian Federal Police said the order to raise the alert level had been prompted by intelligence and an "increasingly complex and challenging" security environment.
It was also prompted by the increasing influence in Australia of extremist groups such as Islamic State.
"While relatively small, there are increasing numbers of Australians who are connected with or inspired by overseas terrorist groups such as ISIL, with the intent and capability to conduct an attack against police," the AFP said.
Authorities have so far cancelled the passports of about 80 Australians suspected of planning to commit a terrorist act or engage in politically motivated violence overseas.
Terrorism expert Clive Williams said raising the threat level for police was a reasonable precaution.
"Islamic State has been calling for its people to attack police," Professor Williams told AAP.
"So, it rather surprises me that they haven't done this before now."

Police want every building in the CBD and all major infrastructure mapped using upgraded 3D laser technology to help fight criminals and terrorists. 
The improved technology, reminiscent of the crime scene investigation TV shows, allow detectives to create a virtual re-enactment of a crime or accident scene to pinpoint evidence, including blood splatter and bullet trajectory.
SYDNEY, Jan 16 AAP - The NSW premier will hold a morning tea in Sydney to thank emergency services workers involved in the fatal Lindt Cafe siege.
Police, paramedics and fire crews have been invited to the event, which will be held at NSW Government House on Friday.
The circumstances surrounding the 16-hour siege in Martin Place in December are the subject of a police critical incident investigation.
The government has announced that a permanent memorial to the victims, hostages, police and emergency workers involved in the deadly siege will be constructed in Martin Place later this year.

Premier Mike Baird says he is proud of the crackdown on alcohol-fuelled violence in Sydney and doesn't plan on "watering down" Sydney's controversial lockout laws.
It comes as health professionals, alcohol experts and campaigners, including the father of one-punch victim Thomas Kelly, came out this week against news there could be an early review of the laws.
The Baird government faced claims it was buckling to the powerful alcohol lobby, when acting Premier Troy Grant announced a review would be carried out in June after the government receives data on crime statistics over the past 12 months.
Mr Baird, who has just returned from India, does not intend to reverse or water down the lockout laws, he said in a statement to Fairfax Media.
"The premier has no intention of changing the lockout laws," the statement said.
The laws require licensed premises in central Sydney and Kings Cross to refuse entry to patrons after 1.30am and stop serving alcohol at 3am.
Since being introduced last year, pubs and clubs have complained of profit losses of up to 40 per cent.
But head injuries caused by assaults on Sydney's nightclub strip have also plummeted.
Ralph Kelly said Mr Baird had "categorically" assured him the laws would not change before February 2016, when the two-year review was due.
"People should come before power and money," he said on Tuesday after news the laws could be reviewed.
The Kelly family have lobbied tirelessly for anti-violence laws since their son was killed in an unprovoked attack in Kings Cross in 2012.
Both the NSW ACT Alcohol Policy Alliance and NSW Police Association want an assurance from the government that the laws will not be reversed.

SYDNEY, Jan 15 AAP - A man wanted over the Sydney police pursuit, which led to the death of a 17-month-old girl, has been formally charged.
Christopher Chandler, 22, had been on the run since he allegedly crashed a stolen Audi through the fence of a Constitution Hill property into a backyard where kids were playing last Thursday night.
Toddler Tatalena Tauaifaga was playing on the other side of the fence and sustained fatal injuries.
Chandler has spent the night behind bars at Wyong Police Station and he will face Wyong court on Thursday, police said.
The 22-year-old man, from Waterloo in inner-city Sydney, has been charged with manslaughter and a raft of other offences.
Chandler was arrested at a home in Gorokan, on the Central Coast on Wednesday afternoon.
Shortly after arriving at Wyong Police Station he claimed he had a medical issue and was taken to a local hospital.
He was later return to the police station where he was formally charged on Thursday morning.
The charges laid against him include manslaughter, aggravated dangerous driving causing death, police Pursuit (Skye's Law), and use offensive weapon to avoid apprehension.
A critical incident investigation will look at which car involved in the pursuit caused 17-month-old Tatalena's injuries.