TikTok star just 'comedian telling jokes'

·3-min read

A TikTok comedian and self-declared "people's premier" who gave a speech yelling "freedom" to anti-lockdown protesters in Sydney is fighting a charge this encouraged the group to commit a crime.

Jon-Bernard Kairouz, 25, faced three charges in the Downing Centre Local Court on Wednesday in contravention of the public health act for attending a public protest on July 24, 2021.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of being away from his residence without a reasonable excuse, and participating in a public gathering after Greater Sydney was plunged into hard lockdown due to the rapid spread of COVID-19.

The comedian is fighting a third charge for encouraging the commission of crimes after delivering a speech using a megaphone from Sydney's Town Hall steps.

That year the online entertainer scored a jump in followers after correctly reporting how many cases NSW would announce hours before they were reported five days in a row.

Kairouz at the time said he had no inside government source but was predicting the figures mathematically.

On Wednesday defence lawyer Daniel Grippi said his client's pleas of guilty to the first two charges should quash the third charge, as the gathering had a shared common purpose between all.

Prosecutor Michael Cleaver pressed the charge and said his offending included "the manner in which (the words) were delivered, through the demeanour and physical actions, and the circumstances he is speaking to the public via a loudspeaker".

Magistrate Emma Manea agreed and said the act could be seen as encouraging, and not just participation, and rejected the application to stay the proceedings on the third charge.

Video footage played to the court showed Kairouz standing above a crowd shouting into a megaphone while whistles tooted and signs read: "Wake up Aus get off your knees".

"As the people's premier I've crunched the numbers, I don't think the cases are going to go up tomorrow, but what I've calculated is there are over 50,000 people here," Kairouz yelled.

"People who are doing it tough, all we want is freedom."

Mr Grippi said there were closer to three-and-a-half thousand people in attendance, and just one example of the many jokes his client made that day.

"This is a brazen act of self-promotion," Mr Grippi said.

Mr Grippi submitted it would be dangerous for the court to find a comedian "just telling jokes" would amount to criminal offending.

He said the exact words said by Kairouz do not encourage an act of defiance against the law, "unlike some politicians who for example say 'breach the public order'".

But Mr Cleaver argued the key word in the direction from the minister was that a person does not "participate" in public gatherings during the lockdown.

"It is affectively a call and response ... he is encouraging their participation with him in the protest ... he is uniting himself and the crowd.

"The defendant says nothing to the crowd to convey that this is just all one big joke."

Ms Manea has reserved her judgment on the outstanding issue and will sentence Kairouz at a later date.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting