17 Dec 2014

Grieving Sydney pays tribute

8:32 pm on 17 December 2014

Thousands of people have turned out in Sydney to pay tribute to the victims of the Martin Place siege, which ended when the police stormed a cafe yesterday.

Barrister and mother of three Katrina Dawson, 38, and Lindt cafe manager Tori Johnson, 34, were killed in the siege, along with hostage-taker Man Haron Monis, as the 16-hour crisis at the Lindt Chocolate Cafe came to an end.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and wife Margie join thousands of Sydneysiders to lay flowers near the cafe.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and wife Margie join thousands of Sydneysiders to lay flowers near the cafe. Photo: AAP

Floral tributes are being left by members of the public and political leaders in what has become a spontaneous memorial in Martin Place, with condolence books also available for people to sign.

Flags on all government buildings have been flying at half-mast in a sign of respect for the victims.

At an impromptu shrine set up in Martin Place, colleagues from Ms Dawson's legal chambers, Eight Selborne, added flowers and tributes to the makeshift memorial that grew throughout Tuesday.

"She was very lovely, very vivacious, happy, loving woman, a very loving mother," a woman named Penny told AAP. "We miss her terribly."

The devastated family of 34-year-old Mr Johnson, who leaves behind a long-term partner, issued a statement expressing their heartbreak.

"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," it said.

Reports have emerged of heroic acts - that Ms Dawson died as she tried to protect a pregnant colleague, and that Mr Johnson tried to wrestle the gun from Monis - but NSW deputy police commissioner Catherine Burn said it was too early to speculate on what happened inside the cafe.

Ms Burn said police were speaking to the surviving hostages and other witnesses to ascertain what went on.

Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson.

Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson. Photo: AAP

Bail laws face scrutiny

New South Wales bail laws are expected to be examined closely after the gunman in the Sydney siege was released despite facing more than 40 offences.

Monis was on bail facing charges of being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife, when he stormed the central Sydney cafe on Monday and held 17 people hostage.

"We are asking state agencies and federal agencies to look very closely at how this offender slipped through the cracks," New South Wales Attorney-General Brad Hazzard said.

"How did this offender not come to the attention of state and federal agencies for more urgent action."

Mr Hazzard suggested there could be further legislative changes surrounding bail in the state, saying "all options" were on the table.

Monis was not on a watchlist, but even if he was Prime Minister Tony Abbott said it was likely that such a crime may not have been prevented.

"Because the level of control that would be necessary to prevent people from going about their daily life, would be very, very high indeed," he said.

Thousands of people have laid flowers near the Martin Place cafe.

Thousands of people have laid flowers near the Martin Place cafe. Photo: AAP

Police patrols ramped up

Police are patrolling popular places and public events under a high-visibility operation designed to make Sydney residents feel safe.

Police from the transport command, dog squad, riot squad, highway patrol and mounted units as well as those from other branches will be involved in Operation Hammerhead for the next three weeks.

The state's assistant police commissioner, Michael Fuller, said police have had no information suggesting an attack similar to Monday's was likely.

"There's certainly no intelligence to suggest there's going to be another incident but again, we've all seen the look on the people's faces down at Martin Place and there is fear," he said.

"The best way to ensure people are safe is to have a strong police presence."

Mr Fuller said he wanted people to feel like they could come into the city and resume normal life.

He said some threats had been made against the Muslim community since the siege but they had been outweighed by public support.

Parts of Martin Place, Phillip Street and King Street will remain closed while authorities investigate and Martin Place railway station will also stay shut.

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