Tyson “Freedom George” Billings was released from the Ottawa courthouse Wednesday after pleading guilty to a charge linked to the convoy protest that took place in the city earlier this year.
Billings pleaded guilty to counselling to commit mischief after having spent 116 days in jail. Other charges including intimidation, obstructing police, mischief, and disobeying a court order were withdrawn by the Crown.
Crown counsel Moiz Karimjee pointed out in court that Billings was not one of the freedom convoy leaders.
Trucks began arriving in Ottawa on Jan. 28 and 29 to stage a protest against federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates for truckers travelling between Canada and the United States. It turned into a much larger movement after many Canadians from across the country began joining in or voicing their support for ending the various COVID-19 mandates and restrictions.
According to the agreed statement of facts read aloud in court, Billings was captured in social media videos disobeying police checkpoints designed to keep people out of downtown Ottawa during the protest and encouraging others to thwart the checkpoints as well.
Billings also recorded himself encouraging other protesters to “hold the line.”
“I got caught up in the moment, sure, who wouldn’t,” Billings said after leaving court. “I don’t regret anything.”
Karimjee told the court that he could have pursued the other allegations made against Billings and sought a longer jail term, but decided not to do so since Billings is the first figure in the convoy protest to plead guilty.
Billings was sentenced to time served and a six-month probation under the condition that he keeps the peace.
His defence lawyer Jake Chadi told the court that his client believed he was “morally justified” to do what he did during the protest.
Billings was originally co-accused with fellow protester Pat King. With Billings’s other charges being dropped, King’s trial is expected to go ahead as planned.
The Canadian Press contributed to this report.