Relief mum and sister ok after Martin Place siege
WHEN Robert Honan went to bed Monday night, he had no idea his 74-year-old mother Robin Hope and 52-year-old sister Louisa Hope were being held against their will by gunman Man Haron Monis in a Sydney cafe.
He did not realise they were two of the last hostages carried out after being injured by stun grenade shrapnel in the closing minutes of the siege.
Instead, he was asleep in his Sunshine Coast home, with partner, former Gympie woman Danielle Svensen, only to be woken by a phone call saying his mother was shot in the siege and his sister was unaccounted for.
He was able to talk to his distressed mother by telephone, but it wasn't until almost an hour later he found out his older sister was alive.
Mr Honan flew to Sydney that day to be with Robin and Louisa, who were undergoing surgery in separate hospitals; his mother for shrapnel wounds to the arm and shoulder and his sister for shrapnel wounds to the foot.
Mr Honan said it has been a gruelling few days for the whole family.
"There was a moment of time where we didn't know Louisa was alive," Mr Honan said.
"And that's a moment of time we'll never get back."
Among the last to be rescued after police stormed the Sydney cafe in a hail of gunfire that left three people dead, including the gunman - their story will be an important one.
By their side in hospital, Mr Honan learnt the horrifying details of what his mother and sister had endured.
Mr Honan's sister is expected to remain in hospital for up to a month, and while Mr Honan said the pair is keeping in high spirits, recovery will be a long road ahead.
"They both have pretty severe injuries - but it's the mental injuries that will take the most time to heal," he said.
"What they have been through and what they have seen, you could never quantify."
To protect his family from further trauma, Mr Honan chose to withhold their names from the public.
However, reports circulating on the internet meant their names were available.
The family is now faced with picking through the ever-growing media presence.
Mr Honan said the NSW police has requested his family keep the details of the siege undisclosed while it was still under investigation.
On his return to the Sunshine Coast, Mr Honan was surprised and upset at "inaccurate" reports circulating.
In particular, a UK report quoting siege details from somebody who has not been involved in the family for more than 25 years.
However, he is grateful for the support his family has received from officials and the public.
"The after care has been exceptional - it has been class one care from all level of services," he said.