Bruce Shillingsworth jnr, the ‘leader’ of the protest, has been released on bail for the charges of arson of the old Parliament | Canberra time

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Members of a protest group shouted repeatedly over a magistrate as their alleged leader stood in court, accused of aiding and abetting the suspected arsonist who is accused of setting fire to the former parliament. Protesters stood in the public gallery of the ACT Magistrates’ Court on Friday, some of them not wearing face masks at all and others leaving theirs dangling from one ear or languishing below their chins. . Their constant outbursts when Bruce Shillingsworth jnr, 30, appeared, prompted frustrated magistrate Beth Campbell to remark: ‘It’s not like on TV where someone can just stand up and say ‘objection’ .” The court heard that Mr Shillingsworth, from Bourke in New South Wales, was suspected of being ‘some kind of ringleader’ among the group of protesters who have been camping near the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Parkes since mid -December. The group, which has ties to sovereign citizens and anti-vaccination causes, tried to drive officials out of public buildings. He attempted to serve “deportation papers” at Old Parliament House, home to the Museum of Australian Democracy, on December 21 when a small fire burned through the doors before being extinguished. An image of the fire soon appeared on Mr Shillingsworth’s Facebook page, along with the caption: ‘These doors are collapsing anyway!’ Eight days later, police say the 30-year-old gave a speech to his fellow protesters and told them to break down the “doors of injustice, the doors of genocide, the doors behind which they take our children and hide them “. Things came to a head on December 30, when Mr Shillingsworth again addressed the group and told them ‘it has to end today’. “We are here to take a stand,” he reportedly said. “Maybe all of us need to be locked up. It’s nothing new. Our brothers and sisters go to jail every day for nothing.” Soon after, he reportedly began painting on the glass of the doors of the Old Parliament as an unidentified woman obscured the CCTV cameras in the portico. Suspected arsonist Nicholas Malcolm Reed, also 30, then allegedly fired at a shield. and placed it at the base of the doors. Mr Shillingsworth, police say, coordinated other protesters and helped clear the way for Mr Reed. Investigators say more than 20 protesters then linked arms in a bid to prevent police from reaching and putting out the fire, with Mr Shillingsworth reportedly shouting at others to “hold on”. He allegedly punched one officer in the chest and grabbed another by the left arm. Mr Reed was released on bail earlier this month after being arrested and charged with offenses that include arson. MORE COURT AND CRIME NEWS: Police took Mr Shillingsworth into custody at the New Houses of Parliament on Thursday amid another protest. He was charged in connection with the December 30 incident with aiding and abetting arson, damaging public property, aiding and abetting property damage, assaulting a frontline worker and resisting a public official. When he appeared in court on Friday, he pleaded not guilty to all charges and told Ms Campbell ‘there is no ringleader’. Following repeated interruptions from those in the public gallery, Ms. Campbell granted Mr. Shillingsworth, a man with only one minor driving offense on his criminal record, a released on bail with conditions requiring him to live in Sydney. Ms Campbell had previously freed Dylan Wilson, another protester charged in connection with the December 30 fire. The 38-year-old, who was already out on bail, was arrested on Thursday and hit with new charges of assaulting and obstructing a frontline worker. He did not plead guilty but told Ms Campbell there was no evidence he had committed any offences, saying he was appearing in ‘kangaroo court’ and adding: ‘You are unlawfully detaining me in a kangaroo system.” The magistrate ultimately found no reason to deny Mr Wilson bail, saying that while the police documents given to the court looked like a ‘tome’ they did not appear to describe exactly what the man was about 38 years old was charged. Mr Shillingsworth and Mr Wilson have therefore left court, where they are due to appear again next month. Our reporters work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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