Melbourne man jailed for more than two years over assaults at anti-lockdown protests

An anti-lockdown protester who struck a police horse with a flag pole and tossed a bollard at a mounted officer during Melbourne’s violent rallies has been jailed for his “appalling” crimes, but will be eligible for parole in less than a year.

Dennis Basic today appeared in the County Court where he was ordered to spend two years and two months behind bars over the incidents, which occurred during the height of the city’s strict COVID restrictions.

The 42-year-old, who pleaded guilty to a number of charges including assaulting an emergency worker and animal cruelty, has already served 326 days on remand.

Judge Douglas Trapnell said Basic, who once wanted to join the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, displayed “aggressive and violent behaviour”.

“Your attacks on two police officers and the police force in two separate incidents, nine months apart, show a continuing disregard for the law, and disrespect towards those charged with enforcing the law on behalf of the Victorian community,” the judge said.

“Your offending conduct at the rallies towards the police officers and the police horse was unwarranted, disrespectful and appalling.

“It was also dangerous, unprovoked and completely lawless.”

Bodycam footage shows violent attack at 2020 protest

In October 2020, Basic marched to the Shrine of Remembrance with thousands of other protesters who were rallying against the strict lockdowns imposed by the Andrews government to limit the spread of COVID-19.

It was there that he physically confronted Senior Constable Jamie Brown at a roadblock on St Kilda Road, near the Arts Centre.

Basic joined hundreds of other anti-lockdown protesters at a demonstration near Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance in October 2020.(PAA: James Ross)

Footage from the police officer’s bodyworn camera shows Basic rushing at him.

“You grabbed hold of Senior Constable Brown and struggled with him. You ripped his police-issue baseball cap from his head,” Judge Trapnell said.

“While standing in front of him, you yelled obscenities, waved the flag pole you were holding in a threatening manner and gestured as if you wanted him to fight you.

“Senior Constable Brown was performing his lawful duty, protecting the public from the very type of unprovoked and aggressive violence you engaged in. Your conduct is to be denounced in the strongest terms.”

A short time later Basic then turned his attention to Leading Senior Constable Jess Walsh, who was on a horse.

“You used the flagpole to forcefully strike the head of the troop horse … multiple times,” the judge said.

Confronting bodyworn camera footage shows the horse’s head rearing backwards as it was battered.

Basic challenges court orders to protest

Basic was arrested weeks later at his home in Narre Warren South, where police found fireworks, flick knives and capsicum spray.

He was granted bail and ordered not to breach lockdown rules again as his case made its way through the courts.

But in July 2021, just four days after another lockdown was extended in Victoria, Basic again marched into Melbourne’s CBD with thousands of other protesters.

Security footage shows Basic picking up an orange traffic bollard with a weighted base and hurling it at Senior Constable Christine Brown, who was on horseback, striking her head and shoulder.

Judge Trapnell told the court that the police officer felt a large object strike the back of his head, jolting it forward.

A man wearing a scarf.
Dennis Basic attacked a mounted police officer at a July 2021 protest while on bail.(Supplied: County Court of Victoria)

In a victim impact statement, Senior Constable Brown told the court that she was in pain for two months after the attack.

“I feel it is important that the accused understands how dangerous his actions were,” she said.

“There was a real risk that I could have fallen off my mount which would have resulted in a riderless horse running through a crowd.”

Judge Trapnell said that Basic then blended into the crowd.

“She could easily have fallen off,” the judge said.

“This was a cowardly, and unprovoked attack on a mounted police officer performing his duty, committed by a person who shouldn’t even have been present at the rally.”

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