Neo-Nazis Facing Harsher Penalty After Terrifying Attack: Victoria’s DPP Seeks Justice

Melbourne, Australia – The Director of Public Prosecutions in Victoria is pushing for a tougher penalty to be levied against two well-known neo-Nazis following a disturbing group assault. Thomas Sewell, 31, and Jacob Hersant, 25, walked away with light sentences from the County Court late last year after being found guilty of violent behavior towards hikers at the Cathedral Ranges State Park on May 8, 2021.

The duo pleaded guilty to a charge of violent disorder, accepting a sentence indication from Judge Kellie Blair that did not include additional jail time. Hersant received a sentence of 200 hours of community service, while Sewell, who had spent over six months in custody, was sentenced to 37 days considered as time served.

However, the case was brought before Victoria’s Court of Appeal as prosecutors argued that the sentence was “manifestly inadequate” given the severity of the crime. Chief crown prosecutor Brendan Kissane KC emphasized that the offence carried a maximum penalty of ten years, underscoring the terrifying nature of the attack on the innocent hikers.

The Court of Appeal was informed that Sewell was the leader of the European Australian Movement at the time, while Hersant led the National Socialist Network. The incident occurred when a hiker filmed the group of about 25 males, many of whom were sporting Celtic cross T-shirts associated with neo-Nazi ideology. The situation escalated as the group, including Sewell and Hersant, began assaulting the hikers, vandalizing their vehicle, and stealing their phones.

Both barristers representing Sewell and Hersant defended the original sentence, arguing that the judge had taken all relevant points into consideration. They highlighted the impact of incarceration on Sewell and Hersant, emphasizing their respective circumstances and lack of prior violent convictions.

The appeal is now being deliberated by Justices Karen Emerton, Maree Kennedy, and Christopher Boyce, who will render a judgment at a later date. Sewell dismissed the appeal as a “political witch hunt” outside the courtroom, while Hersant’s barrister emphasized the impact of an extended community corrections order on his client’s life.

Overall, the case reflects a broader conversation around the appropriate punishment for individuals involved in hate-fueled violence and the complexities of balancing justice with rehabilitation in the legal system.