A man who held up "dictator Dan" signs with swear words and a swastika during a protest in Wangaratta says he was frustrated after losing his job and regrets his actions.
Christopher James Berry came to police attention at the intersection of Ford and Riley Streets about 11am on September 12 last year.
Stay-at-home directions were in place at the time.
The bus driver and yabby farmer had three signs, including one saying "f--- dictator Dan" and another calling for the premier to be booted.
He was belligerent and argumentative.
"I dare you to arrest me," he told police at the scene.
"I f---ing dare you.
"My lawyer will cane you in court."
The Wangaratta Magistrates Court on Monday heard four men had been protesting at the time, but Berry said he had only been with his daughter.
He presented in court far differently to his behaviour on the day, and said he had been divorced two or three years earlier and was trying to get back on his feet.
His yabby supply work dried up when Melbourne restaurants were forced to close in lockdown and he lost his bus driving work.
"Do I regret doing it?" he calmly asked magistrate Lance Martin.
"At the end of the day, what did I achieve?
"I didn't really achieve anything, I was frustrated, I'm under financial pressure and I'm still trying to get back on my feet."
He became emotional when speaking about his daughter, who had been unable to go to school or sport.
"Under pressure, I think people do strange things," Berry said.
"Would I do it again?
"Look at the trouble it's caused me."
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Berry said he wasn't an anti-vaxxer, and was in fact vaccinated.
"I'm trying to do all the right things now your honour," he said.
Berry had written to the court to say he was part of a national class action against the state, but said he was "finished with all that".
Mr Martin said people in a democracy had the right to free speech and movement, but by exercising his rights he had breached a law.
"The majority of the action taken was directed at keeping people out of hospital, so the hospital system isn't overwhelmed, and quite frankly keeping people alive," he said.
He said the use of a swastika on a sign was "simply disgraceful, it's appalling".
Berry was was fined $1585, including court costs, slightly less than the initial fine of $1652.
He said he had been unable to pay the original fine.
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