A Hamilton casual worker, who helped put up more than 50 neo-Nazi stickers around Melbourne and came to the attention of counter terrorism command, has been fined $650.
Jack Darren Bell, 21, pleaded guilty in the Hamilton Magistrates Court on Wednesday to causing a nuisance in Caulfield on the morning of May 12 this year, one day after State Parliament announced it was banning Nazi symbols.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Paul Harris told the court Bell and co-accused Jimeone Roberts were involved in the offending.
He said Roberts was politically affiliated with the National Socialist Network, considered to be a national security risk and had come to the attention of counter terrorism command.
Bell lost his casual rear-of-house job after declining to be vaccinated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He moved into a Melbourne property with Roberts after meeting him online in anti-vaccination forums and they attended freedom marches and anti-vaccination rallies.
The court heard that on May 12 at 10.05am Roberts and Bell were on Hawthorn Road at Caulfield and they placed more than 50 racist and offensive stickers on shops and business fronts, including the office of Jewish MP David Southwick.
The pair were observed by a woman who has linked with the Jewish community security group.
Another man filmed the two men and their actions were also caught on CCTV footage.
Police were alerted, attended and arrested Bell and Roberts in a park.
The officers found both men were in possession of the stickers, they were charged and bailed to appear in court.
It was alleged Bell came under the influence of Roberts, who pleaded guilty to the same charge in the Moorabbin Magistrates Court on August 1 and was placed on an 18-month community corrections order with the condition he do 200 hours of community work.
Bell's lawyer Graham Schroeder said his client had been diagnosed with autism, went to a primary aged special school and then Mercy Regional College in Camperdown where he completed year 12 in 2018.
Bell and his mother moved to Hamilton and he was employed at McDonald's until Christmas last year when he lost his job after declining to be vaccinated.
Mr Schroeder said issues around vaccination had polarised views while lockdowns were in play.
He said Bell had engaged in social media discussing those and issues of liberty.
The lawyer said during that time Bell had come into contact with Roberts who was "something of a heavy hitter in the right wing space" and a registered person in relation to terrorism.
Mr Schroeder said that after losing his job, Bell relocated to Melbourne and moved in with 30-year-old Roberts.
"He fell under the influence of Roberts," he said.
He said Bell was responsible for posting only two stickers along Hawthorn Road and the evidence clearly showed Bell following Roberts.
Mr Schroeder said Roberts posted the stickers and made offensive gestures, such as flicking the bird, at security cameras.
He said Bell was not exactly passive but certainly the follower in the offending.
The lawyer said the day after being charged, Bell packed up and returned to Hamilton and was now back working at his former causal job.
"The likelihood of him being a repeat offender is extremely low," the lawyer said, explaining he had visited Poland and the Auschwitz concentration camp and his client's offending was naive.
Bell was said to have a moderate income and was engaged during the winter months as a football boundary umpire.
Magistrate Nunzio La Rosa said Bell had no prior court appearances, had come under the influence of the charismatic Roberts, who had swayed him to act as he did.
He said a not conviction fine of $650 was appropriate.
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