Sydney gunman Man Monis was a self-obsessed fantasist who grew increasingly defiant as he edged closer to launching his deadly attack, an inquest has heard.
The man who took 18 people hostage at the Lindt cafe in December was educated and erratic, secretive about his own life and public about his many grievances, lawyers told the inquest investigating the circumstances of the siege.
Shotgun-wielding Monis took customers and workers captive and made a series of demands, including that he be delivered a flag of the Islamic State group. The stand-off ended when police stormed the cafe in a barrage of gunfire. Monis was killed, along with two hostages.
“This is not a normal investigation — it is grappling with questions of national significance,” coroner Michael Barnes told the court.
“Was Monis a so-called lone wolf prosecuting an Isis [Islamic State]-inspired terrorist act, or was he a deranged individual pursuing some personal, private grievance in a public manner? They are real questions we must try and answer if an explanation for the siege is to be forthcoming and strategies to avoid a repeat are to be developed.”
In their opening address, lawyers assisting the coroner painted the Iranian-born Monis, 50, as a man with conflicting personality traits, who was both compliant and contrarian when it came to authority.
“He could be plausible, courteous and controlled,” said lawyer Sophie Callan.
“But he was also almost entirely consumed in his own self-importance and when challenged, his self-control would occasionally slip and his reaction was disproportionate.”
The lawyers also described Monis as a narcissist with a flair for the grandiose.
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