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Huge win for nationalist activists as court dismisses hiker clash appeal: ‘Victory for White Australia’

Thomas Sewell Jacob Hersant appeal win Melbourne court

Two of Australia’s most prominent nationalists have won a court battle with Victorian prosecutors who attempted to have them jailed again for their roles in a clash with a group of hikers almost three years ago.
Thomas Sewell, 31, and Jacob Hersant, 25, the leaders of right-wing activist groups the European Australian Movement and the National Socialist Network, walked out of Victoria’s Court of Appeal on Tuesday with a group of supporters after three justices dismissed claims their sentencing judge was too lenient.

Outside court Mr Sewell described the outcome as a “victory for White Australia”.

“These people ran us over with their car in this carpark and then there was a violent disorder, which I think any Australian with red blood still left in their veins and any honour would find very reasonable,” he said.

“The police and media have worked together against us, and against the courts, against the Open Courts Act, to hold our case in secret and closed meetings.

“The County Court decided that the evidence that the media was withholding, and that the police and ASIO were withholding from us, was injurious to the public’s perception of the state and was in the interests of the defence to have, and they still wouldn’t give it to us.

“So we were being absolutely ambushed in the Cathedral Ranges, and absolutely ambushed by the media and the police in the courts. But the courts have been fair on us, they’ve been fair on White Australians, and we’ve had a great victory.”

Thomas Sewell Jacob Hersant appeal win Melbourne court
Thomas Sewell (centre) and Jacob Hersant (second right) speak to media outside of the Victorian Court of Appeal in Melbourne (AAP Image)

The pair last year pleaded guilty to one charge each of violent disorder over a confrontation with a group of six other men in the Cathedral Ranges State Park in Victoria in May 2021.

The only injury suffered by the victims was a minor cut to an index finger, although the court heard that all six claimed to be in “mortal terror” and one urinated on himself in fear.

In September Mr Sewell, who had already spent 210 days in solitary confinement in jail after his arrest, was sentenced to one month and 7 days imprisonment, and Mr Hersant to 3 days imprisonment already served in pre-sentence detention, and 200 hours community service.

But Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions appealed the sentences, claiming they were “manifestly inadequate”, and arguing that County Court Judge Kellie Blair had erred by determining their offences were on the lower end of the scale.

Court of Appeal justices Karin Emerton, Maree Kennedy and Christopher Boyce on Tuesday dismissed the appeals, noting that Mr Sewell has served six months of imprisonment in “extremely harsh conditons”.

The appeal judges ruled that Justice Blair should have sentenced Mr Hersant to a custodial sentence “of sufficient duration not only to punish him but, also, to send a message out into the community that offending of this nature will not be tolerated”, but decided it would be counter-productive to send him back to jail.

“We consider that Mr Hersant’s case warrants exercise of the residual discretion not to interfere with the sentence imposed,” the justices wrote.

After the hearing, Mr Sewell and Mr Hersant told their side of the story to supporters publicly for the first time, and revealed that the six men they clashed with ran over several members of their group in the carpark where the violence occured, before crashing into a rock.

They also said that the incident was filmed by the media and law enforcement.

Mr Sewell said the victims were homosexual Jewish Communists who said in their witness statements that “as gay Jews they felt terror to be around us”, and Mr Hersant said that their exact location had been posted online by anti-fascist groups.

“These people were definitely anti-fascists, they lied to the police or the police just didn’t follow it up, just protected them, didn’t do any investigation into these people who attacked us, they just wanted to get us,” Mr Hersant said.

“They thought that this was a way to disrupt our organisation, to put us as the leaders of the organisation behind bars, so there was no interest in finding out what actually happened, there was interest in finding out how we could be punished, and how we could be persecuted.”

Mr Hersant then pointed out that no investigations, raids or arrests had resulted from firebombing attacks on members of his organisation.

“We are peaceful people, it’s only when these Communists, and these police officers, and these journalists, they all set up these entrapment schemes and force you to defend yourself, that you are basically painted [as violent],” he said, adding that the details in the police brief did not match the reality of the situation.

“They are wrong in thinking that we are violent people, that we are out to attack people, that’s not true. We are peaceful, we just have a political message to bring across.”

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