By police reporter Jessica Kidd
A glass partition in the Lindt Cafe would have acted “like concrete” when tactical police stormed the building in a hail of gunfire, an inquest into the Martin Place siege has heard.
A tactical police officer, known only as Officer B, fired through the partition with a colleague as they forced their way into the Lindt Cafe, the inquest heard.
Officer B suffered wounds to his left cheek and thigh when he was struck by bullet fragments, possibly from his own gun.
Police ballistics expert Lucas Van der Walt told the inquest the officers fired two shots into the 12-millimetre-thick glass, aiming for gunman Man Haron Monis who had barricaded himself behind a table and chair.
Video taken of forensic testing was played in the inquest, and showed the bullets fragmenting and bouncing back when fired through a similar pane.
“Glass basically acts like concrete when it’s struck by a bullet,” Mr Van der Walt said.
“One does expect a bullet to fragment a little bit and some of [the bullet] will bounce back.”
Mr Van der Walt told the inquest he counted 22 intact bullets fired by police when they stormed the cafe.
He said four chairs were struck by a total of 14 bullets, two tables were struck by two bullets and the glass ‘welcome’ partition was struck by another two bullets.
The ballistics expert told the inquest he believed that the final four bullets struck Monis, his backpack and the wall of the cafe.
Katrina Dawson may have been killed by bullet ‘fragments’
Mr Van der Walt also gave evidence hostage Katrina Dawson most likely died as a result of being struck by fragments of a single police bullet.
Ms Dawson suffered seven wounds to her neck and upper back when she was struck by fragments.
Mr Van der Walt told the inquest the total weight of fragments found in Ms Dawson’s body was roughly equal to a single bullet.
“[But] the possibility she was struck by the fragments of a second bullet cannot be excluded.” he said.
The inquest also heard a police sniper stationed in the Westpac building diagonally opposite the cafe would have had no chance of penetrating the cafe’s windows unless the glass facade of the Westpac building was breached first.
Mr Van der Walt said the same armour-piercing bullet used by the snipers fragmented into several smaller pieces when it was fired through a similar pane of glass during forensic tests.
Mr Van der Walt told the inquest none of those fragments reached a second pane of glass almost 50 metres away – the same distance as that between the Westpac building and the Lindt Cafe.
However the inquest heard a softer bullet, used by the tactical police stationed on the ground, could have penetrated the 6mm windows of the Lindt cafe if the sniper had breached the Westpac building first.
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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