AS teen terror suspect Numan Haider waits for a police detective to pick up his call, he talks to an unknown person about something hidden inside a pocket.
On the recording, Haider is talking at length. Something looks like “shit in a pocket”.
“I don’t trust them,” he says.
The phone recording is being played for a coronial inquest into Haider’s death on 18 March.
The detective – Officer A – tells coroner John Olle he was not privy to these utterances at the time.
When Officer A picks up the call, Haider asks him if he had searched Haider’s house in Endeavour Hills that night.
“That’s right,” Officer A says.
Unbeknown to the officer, Haider had been allegedly upset that police – or “dogs” as he described them – searched his bedroom in his absence that evening.
“I don’t think I can come down to the police station. I feel comfortable here,” Haider tells the officer on the phone.
Haider wants to meet at Hungry Jacks in Hallam. Background whispering is heard from Haider’s end, something that Officer A later agreed to the court was concerning.
Officer A tells Haider that Hungry Jack’s has too many people for them to talk. He needed to make an assessment for Australia’s national security but Haider wouldn’t be arrested or detained, he says.
The officer told the court he was not comfortable with Haider’s suggested Hungry Jacks rendezvous at the time.
“I was thinking this was some sort of ambush or a trap.”
The call takes place on 23 September 2014. Haider is ringing back Officer A, who has requested him to come down to Endeavour Hills police station “just for a chat”.
That evening, Haider would allegedly wait hand in pocket and then stab Officer A and a federal agent outside the station. Seconds after that, he would be shot dead.
Had Haider simply said no to a meeting, Officer A would have made no further contact, he told the court.
But Haider calls back a second time, saying he’ll come down to the police station.
“Beautiful,” Officer A responds.
There is at least five seconds of silence. Haider says sorry, he had put the officer on mute.
“Can we talk outside or something?” Haider asks.
“Yeah, no dramas. I’ll wait for you,” the officer says and asks what car Haider will be driving.
They agree to meet in 15 minutes.
Counsel assisting, Rachel Ellyard, asked the officer in court why he agreed to the meeting “very speedily”.
“I was very happy that Numan was coming down to the station to meet me and talk to investigators,” Officer A told the court.
Police planned to wait outside for Haider. After searching Haider for weapons, officer A was to then persuade the 18-year-old to come inside the station.
However Haider calls 10 minutes earlier than anticipated. “Hi I’m outside right now.”
“OK no worries I’ll come out. Thanks mate.”
Officer A told the court he wasn’t concerned about this at the time. There was surveillance outside to show if Haider arrived alone or not.
The officer and a federal agent approach Haider, who is sitting on a car bonnet in shadows in the next-door child care centre’s car park.
Officer A told the court there were no pre-attack warning signs from Haider. He was concerned that Haider’s right hand was in his jacket pocket, his left hand by his side.
Prior to the meeting, Officer A was aware Haider had recently been sourcing knives, an iPhone taser and a balaclava. A federal agent told him there was “potential for an edged weapon”.
A worldwide Islamic State fatwa had been issued days earlier but its impact at that stage was unknown, Officer A told the court.
He considered Haider may have been angry with police, given he had recently staged a flag-waving, raving protest in Dandenong Plaza five days earlier. That was hours after large-scale counter-terrorism police raids in Sydney and Brisbane.
However ASIO did not pass “significant” information they knew of Haider, Officer A told the court.
Such as Haider’s Facebook profile photo in camouflage, a balaclava and holding a Shahada flag just five days ahead of the attack.
Nor Haider’s Facebook comments calling police “dogs” who had “declared war” on Islam and should “go fist each other up the ass”.
Nor a telephone intercept in which Haider tells a friend that if he had a knife he could have stabbed police who stopped him in Dandenong Plaza.
“I was operating under the proviso that ASIO would provide real time intelligence,” Officer A said.
“I think it unlikely we’d meet him in those circumstances had … full intelligence been revealed.”
As he walks towards Haider, Officer A feels comfortable.
He could still see the teen clearly enough in the child-care centre’s ambient outside light.
Officer A looked for pre-attack warning signs such as where Haider’s hands were, his gaze, any hostile body language, drunkeness or drug use.
The detective tells the court he shook hands from a distance to mitigate the risk of Haider having a knife in pocket.
He told Haider he was going to search him. The officer thought when the teen turned away towards the bonnet, he was complying.
Haider quickly turned around. The officer didn’t see a knife until it was entering his forearm. He blocked Haider’s second stabbing motion and backed away.
Haider turned his attack on the federal agent – Officer B – who had been looking in the car’s window.
The agent collapsed as Haider stabbed him multiple times including to the head.
Officer A said he was too far away to use a baton or OC spray to save his colleague,
In any case, OC wouldn’t have affected Haider fast enough to avert Officer B’s murder, Officer A told the court.
Haider stood “to the side and above” Officer B, who was lying on his back. For the first time in his career, Officer A used “lethal force” – one shot to Haider’s head which killed him instantly.
“There was not any opportunity at all to disarm (Haider),” Officer A said.
“Officer B was probably seconds away from being killed.”
Within a minute of walking out of the station to greet Haider, Officer B runs back to the station. He is holding his profusely bleeding eye.
“The warning signs weren’t missed by the joint counter-terrorism team (which included himself and several federal agents),” Officer A tells the court.
“There had been obviously significant intelligence we weren’t made aware of.”