Members of a protest group have repeatedly shouted over a magistrate as their suspected ringleader faced court, accused of aiding and abetting the alleged arsonist who is charged with setting fire to Old Parliament House.
Protesters stood in the ACT Magistrates Court's public gallery on Friday, some of them not wearing face masks at all and others leaving theirs dangling from one ear or languishing below the chin.
Their consistent outbursts during the appearance of Bruce Shillingsworth jnr, 30, prompted a frustrated magistrate Beth Campbell to remark: "It's not like on television where somebody can just jump up and say 'objection'."
The court heard Mr Shillingsworth, of Bourke in NSW, was suspected of being "some kind of ringleader" among the group of protesters that has been camping near the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Parkes since mid-December.
The group, which has ties to sovereign citizen and anti-vaccination causes, has been attempting to boot officials out of public buildings.
It tried to serve "eviction papers" at Old Parliament House, which houses the Museum of Australian Democracy, on December 21, when a small fire scorched the doors before being extinguished.
An image of the fire soon appeared on Mr Shillingsworth's Facebook page, accompanied by the caption: "These Doors Are Coming Down Either Way!"
Eight days later, police allege the 30-year-old gave a speech to his fellow protesters and told them to break down the "doors of injustice, doors of genocide, doors that they take our children and hide 'em behind".
Things came to a head on December 30, when Mr Shillingsworth is alleged to have addressed the group again and told them "it's gotta end today".
"We're here to make a stand," he allegedly said.
"Maybe every single one of us gotta get locked up. It's nothing new. Our brothers and sisters are going to jail every day for nothing.
"We may as well go to jail for something, and that's fighting for our rights, fighting for our freedom."
Soon after, he allegedly began to paint over the glass on the Old Parliament House doors as an unidentified woman obscured CCTV cameras in the portico.
Alleged arsonist Nicholas Malcolm Reed, also 30, is then said to have carried fire on a shield and placed it at the base of the doors.
Mr Shillingsworth, according to police, co-ordinated other protesters and helped clear the way for Mr Reed.
Investigators say more than 20 protesters later linked arms in a bid to stop police reaching and extinguishing the fire, with Mr Shillingsworth allegedly screaming at the others to "hold".
He allegedly struck one officer in the chest and grabbed another by the left arm.
Mr Reed was granted bail earlier this month after being arrested and charged with offences that include arson.
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Police took Mr Shillingsworth into custody at the new Parliament House on Thursday amid a different protest.
He was charged in relation to the December 30 incident with aiding and abetting arson, defacing public property, aiding and abetting the damage of property, assaulting a front-line 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's no ringleader".
Following repeated interruptions from those in the public gallery, Ms Campbell granted Mr Shillingsworth, a man with only one minor driving offence on his criminal record, bail with conditions that require him to live in Sydney.
Ms Campbell had earlier released Dylan Wilson, another protester charged in relation to the December 30 fire.
The 38-year-old man, who had already been on bail, was arrested on Thursday and hit with fresh charges of assaulting and obstructing a front-line worker.
He did not enter pleas but told Ms Campbell there was no evidence he had committed any offences, claiming he was appearing in a "kangaroo court" and adding: "You're unlawfully detaining me in a kangaroo system."
The magistrate ultimately found no basis on which to refuse Mr Wilson bail, saying that while police documents tendered to the court resembled a "tome", they did not seem to outline exactly what the 38-year-old was accused of.
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