So-called ‘sovereign citizens’ protested a magistrate’s decision in a courtroom as two men arrested for protests outside the Old Houses of Parliament were released on bail.
Bruce Shillingsworth Jr has been charged with abetting the arson as police allege he prevented emergency services from reaching the gates of the Old Houses of Parliament while another man allegedly started a fire on December 30.
Police allege Shillingsworth waved the accused arsonist toward the gates and appeared to coordinate protesters to make way for the man carrying the fire on a shield.
Shillingsworth pleaded not guilty.
Dylan Wilson has been charged with assaulting a frontline service provider and obstructing a public official during the same protest.
Prosecutor Alexandra Back opposed the release on bail of the two men.
Shillingsworth was released on bail after agreeing not to enter the suburb of Parkes – where the Old Parliament is located – and to check in at Redfern Police Station in Sydney three times a week and not contact the accused arsonist.
Nor should it promote future protests.
Magistrate Beth Campbell said Shillingsworth’s record suggested he was a man of his word and that she would be more comfortable granting bail if he left town, which he agreed to.
“Bail only works if someone gives their word and keeps their word. What are my chances that you will agree and keep your word?” she asked.
“My understanding is, rightly or wrongly, that you consider the authority of this court and the laws of the nation are not binding on you.”
Shillingsworth replied, “Your honour, you can take my word for it 100%. I have been an upright citizen in your law thus far.”
The interaction sparked anger in the courtroom when Ms Campbell asked if Shillingsworth would accept her bail conditions.
Sovereign citizen protesters continually intervened, claiming that Shillingsworth had “diplomatic immunity”.
A man who identified himself as Shillingsworth’s father said the youngster was within his jurisdiction and not that of the court.
“It’s not like on TV where someone can just stand up and say an objection,” Ms Campbell said.
Wilson was also released on bail after Ms Campbell said police had failed to produce relevant evidence relating to new charges.
Police allege Wilson tried to prevent emergency services personnel from putting out a fire burning the gates of the Old Houses of Parliament by getting between the police and the portico.
Police said Wilson then “had repeated contact with police.”
Ms Campbell said that although more evidence could be produced to support the new charges, “I cannot be asked to do work that on this occasion the police have not done themselves”.
“From the evidence I have, there is no clear evidence that he committed both offences,” she said.
“Standing between (police and fire) is not necessarily enough. The officer can just walk around.”
Wilson – a self-declared sovereign citizen who does not believe in the rule of law – has continually intervened via video link, saying the court lacks legal jurisdiction to charge him.
“You are illegally detaining me in a kangaroo system,” he said.
“I didn’t commit any crime, that’s why they made up these stories.”
Ms Back said Wilson’s continued breach of bail conditions by returning to demonstrate at the Old Houses of Parliament despite not being allowed in the suburbs meant he was likely to ignore future bail conditions bail.
With the offense only a fine, Ms Campbell granted bail but warned Wilson of future breaches, saying he would be fired if he continued to ignore the terms of the bail.
Wilson, who appeared without legal representation, said police have no authority to impose restrictions on his movements.
“That’s why you need to get good quality legal advice,” Ms Campbell said before muting it.
Both men are due to appear in court again in February.
Australian Associated Press