A senior police official has told an inquest that a fellow officer described a group of people being held hostage by a gunman inside a Sydney cafe as "jovial."

The characterization was at stark odds with the grim description the hostages have given of the hours they were held at gunpoint inside the Lindt Cafe in December 2014. Three people were killed during the siege, including the gunman.

New South Wales Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Jenkins was the officer in charge during final hours of the crisis. He told a coronial inquest on Monday that the comment about the hostages' allegedly jovial behavior was made by another official during a briefing as Jenkins took over as commander 12 hours into the siege.