A wannabe reality TV star turned anti-lockdown advocate who is accused of inciting violent protests in Melbourne has secured a legal win.
Monica Smit had “onerous” conditions scrapped after spending 22 days in custody.
Smit is charged with two counts of incitement in relation to protests held in Melbourne on August 11 and August 21, during the state’s sixth lockdown.
She was originally granted bail on September 1 after she was arrested but refused to sign a bail undertaking because of strict conditions including a curfew and the removal of some material from social media.
The 33-year-old woman is the founder of Reignite Democracy Australia and applied to have bail conditions varied in the Supreme Court of Victoria on Wednesday.
Her lawyer Peter Chadwick QC argued at the hearing the original conditions were “onerous” and she shouldn’t be subjected to any, except to appear before the court.
But Justice Hollingworth noted there were concerns about Smit reoffending and said it wasn’t appropriate to bail her without some conditions in place.
“In the current climate there is undoubtedly a real risk of her reoffending,” Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth told the court.
The judge noted the “unacceptable violence” directed at police, journalists and others in the past few days but said she wasn’t suggesting Smit advocated violence.
Prosecutor Anthony Albore argued strict conditions should remain in place and said they were not “onerous or disproportionate”.
Police allege Smit encouraged people to attend the protests through authoring and transmitting posts on the encrypted Telegram app.
“I suggest wearing masks to any events this weekend. Wear them until you’re in a big group and then take them off. It’s not cowardice, it’s smart,” one message sent to the chat group read.
Smit is also charged with three counts of contravening the chief health officer’s directions.
The judge decided to impose conditions but said they would be “more limited” than the ones originally imposed.
Smit must not commit an offence against sections of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act, and must not incite any other person to pursue a course of conduct that involves the commission of an offence under the act.
She was also barred from naming the police officers involved in her case except to her lawyers.
“The effect of those conditions is to require Ms Smit to obey the law and not to encourage others to breach it,” the judge said.
The anti-vaxxer and lockdown protester was originally ordered to follow a court-imposed curfew between 7pm and 6am.
She was also ordered to remove any material that incited opposition to the health officer’s directions within 48 hours of her release.
Several police officers were injured and taken to hospital when crowds turned violent at the August 21 demonstration, with more than 4000 protesters at the scene.
More than 6400 people tuned in to the hearing about 11.30am, more than an hour and a half after it started.
Smit is expected to be released from remand and will next face court in November.