Man behind siege sent letters to dead soldiers' families

THE gunman at the centre of the Lindt Chocolate Cafe siege in Sydney was a self-proclaimed Sheik who was put on a good behaviour bond for sending 'grossly offensive' letters to families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

Man Haron Monis, 50, also known as Sheik Haron, was sentenced to 300 hours community service and placed on a two-year good behaviour bond in 2013, according to news reports.

He was killed by police when they stormed the cafe in the early hours of this morning.

His co-accused and partner, 34-year-old Amirah Droudis, who pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting him.

Judge Mark Marien said Monis had sent a host of "grossly offensive" letters to the grieving families of seven soldiers killed in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2009, AAP reported.

He also wrote to the family of a trade official killed in a bombing in Indonesia.

In some of the correspondence, soldiers were likened to murderers, while in others Monis said they were going to hell.

In a DVD sent to the widow of one of the soldiers, Lance Corporal Jason Marks, Droudis said: "We shouldn't be honouring them as we don't honour Hitler's soldiers."

Monis, who pleaded guilty to 12 counts of using a postal service to cause offence after a protracted legal battle, said his letters were simply "flowers of advice".

"Always, I stand behind my beliefs," he told reporters outside the court.

He arrived in Australia as a refugee in 1996.

Last November he was charged with being an accessory before and after the fact to the murder of his ex-wife, who was allegedly stabbed and set alight in her apartment complex.

In March, he was charged with sexually and indecently assaulting a young woman in 2002.

Most recently he has been charged with 50 charges of indecent assault relating to his time as a self-proclaimed "spiritual healer" who was involved with black magic in western Sydney a decade ago.

Monis has always claimed on his webpage that the charges are part of a witchhunt against him.

More on this at the NZ Herald