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- Old parliament door set on fire
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A man who set fire to the doors of Old Parliament House in Canberra during a protest has been sentenced to eight months in prison.
Nicholas Reed, also known as Wareywaa Kirlwil Yarrawirri, was convicted in the ACT Supreme Court after a jury previously found the 32-year-old guilty of arson for lighting a fire on the door in December 2021, causing it to catch fire got into trouble.
Judge David Mossop sentenced Reed on Wednesday to 23 months in prison, suspended after eight months.
Reed was spared the requested restitution order requiring him to pay half of the $10,000 in excess damages.
In dismissing this part of the charge, Judge Mossop explained that the amount was nominal and Reed had a limited ability to pay it.
Nicholas Reed, also known as Wareywaa Kirlwil Yarrawirri, was sentenced to eight months in prison for setting fire to the Old Parliament House
During the trial, the jury was shown CCTV footage of Reed taking supplies from a silver Mercedes for a smoking ceremony.
He was later seen putting coals on a piece of wood and carrying it up the stairs.
Prosecutors alleged Reed then placed it against the door, causing it to catch fire.
Reed’s attorney, James Sabharwal, argued the fleeting images made it “difficult” for a jury to conclude it was Reed.
However, the jury concluded that the person was Reed, taking into account that the Mercedes was registered to a woman who had the same last name and address as him.
In September, a second anti-government protester, Bruce Shillingsworth Jr., was also found guilty of aiding and abetting the arson that caused about $5 million in damage to the heritage building that houses the Museum of Australian Democracy.
Prosecutors alleged that the day before the fire was lit, Shillingsworth urged protesters to take a stand and “come here and tear down this door.”
The protest caused around $5 million in damage to the former Australian parliament
Shillingsworth was shown outside Old Parliament House passionately addressing his supporters.
“We can break down any door.” Doors of injustice. Doors of genocide. “Doors behind which they hide our children,” he was heard saying.
In another video from December 29, 2021, Shillingworth referred to the “eviction papers” the group posted on the doors of Old Parliament House.
“We have served this notice. “An immediate eviction notice… We’re telling them they need to move out immediately,” he said in the video played to the court.
In CCTV and body camera footage from December 30, Shillingsworth was identified as part of the crowd blocking police attempts to get to the fire.
In his own closing speech, Shillingsworth argued that the day’s events were merely a cultural ceremony.
Bruce Shillingsworth Jr (pictured outside the ACT Supreme Court) was found guilty of aiding and abetting arson in the ACT Supreme Court
“We were going to go in there and fumigate the place,” he said.
“The smoking ceremony is a purification process. It’s about driving out evil spirits. Believe me, there are many evil spirits in this place. That’s where they made the decision to kill my people.’
The Old Parliament House served as Australia’s Parliament from 1927 until 1988, when MPs moved to New Parliament House, located on Capital Hill behind the original building near central Canberra.