September 1, 2021
-The Growth Op
A 19-year-old, Australian man implicated in hurling cannabis plants, among other items, at mounted police during an unauthorized protest in July now faces a mix of disobedience and drug charges.
The charges were laid after investigations by Strike Force Seasoned — a task force created to ensure community, local business and protester safety during a massive, unauthorized anti-lockdown protest in Sydney — identified an address of interest.
The teen was arrested and later charged with rioting, throwing a missile at a police officer at public disorder (no actual bodily harm), not complying with a notice direction, two counts of supplying a prohibited drug (indictable quantity) and two counts of possessing prohibited drug.
In late July, several days following the July 24 protest, the NSW Police issued an appeal to the public to help identify people involved in throwing pot plants at the mounted officers. They released images of four people they thought might be able to assist with inquiries, as well as asked for public assistance to identify two additional people at the protest.
The mounted officers were called to the scene to aid a fellow officer. While there, however, both the officers and horses “were then struck by projectiles, including pot plants,” the police report.
By late July, police reported that 59 people had been charged and 151 penalty infringement notices had been issued for breaching public health orders.
According to the NSW Government, emergency services minister David Elliott noted following the protest that the task force would “forensically investigate all CCTV and social media footage collected over the course of the afternoon’s protest. Police will not hesitate to bring more charges.”
Last month, The Guardian reported that a key organizer of the protest was sentenced to a maximum of eight months in prison, with no chance of parole for three months, for his part in planning the gathering, as well as for multiple breaches of public health orders. Anthony Khallouf, 29, reportedly pleaded guilty to about a half dozen counts related to not complying with COVID-19 directives, encouraging the commission of crimes and false representation.
Federal law in Australia prohibits cannabis, with possession for personal use punishable by a maximum sentence of two years, notes Criminal Legal.
In New South Wales, police have discretion to issue a caution when the crime is a first offence, the amount possessed is 15 grams or less and the offender admits the cannabis is possessed for personal use. A third offence is charged as a crime, the information explains.