Sydney siege: Victim Katrina Dawson was mother of three

Katrina Dawson, one of the two victims killed in the Lindt Chocolate Cafe siege in Sydney. She leaves behind two daughters and a son, all below the age of 10. -- PHOTO: TWITTER 
Katrina Dawson, one of the two victims killed in the Lindt Chocolate Cafe siege in Sydney. She leaves behind two daughters and a son, all below the age of 10. -- PHOTO: TWITTER 

Sydney barrister and mother of three Katrina Dawson was killed while trying to shield her pregnant friend from gunfire, according to new reports.

The 38-year-old, along with 34-year-old manager Tori Johnson, was hailed as a hero in a church service held on Tuesday, reported Agence France-Presse Tuesday.

“These heroes were willing to lay down their lives so others might live” said Archbishop Anthony Fisher, who spoke at the prayer service in St. Mary's Cathedral about 500 metres from the cafe.

"Reports have also emerged that Katrina Dawson was shielding her pregnant friend from gunfire," said the Archbishop.

Australian media said that Ms Dawson was meeting a pregnant friend for coffee when the hostage crisis began. She is a respected barrister from Eighth Floor Selborne chambers, whose offices are opposite the cafe, reported The Telegraph newspaper.

"Katrina was one of our best and brightest barristers who will be greatly missed by her colleagues and friends at the NSW Bar. She was a devoted mother of three children, and a valued member of her floor and of our bar community. Our thoughts are with her family at this time, including her brother, Sandy Dawson of Banco Chambers." said Ms Jane Needham, president of the NSW Bar Association.

Ms Dawson had two daughters and a son, all below the age of 10. The youngest, a girl, is four years old.

She was married to Mr Paul Smith, a partner at top tier law firm King & Wood Mallesons. She met him while completing her clerkship at the firm.

According to The Australian, Ms Dawson regularly visited the cafe as part of her morning routine. Upon hearing the news of the siege, her family had tried to contact her via text messages but did not receive any reply.

The children were informed of the tragic outcome of the siege only on Tuesday morning, said the newspaper.

Ms Dawson studied at the University of Sydney Law School and completed her Master of Laws at the University of NSW.

Ms Dawson had planned a joint family holiday with another colleague and her children later this year.

Friends quoted by Australian media described Ms Dawson as a high-achiever who was beautiful and highly-intelligent.

melheng@sph.com.sg