Alleged neo-Nazi leaders face Vic court

October 27, 2021 by AAP
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A man has described his fear coming face to face with an alleged group of neo-Nazis on a Victorian mountain.

Alleged neo-Nazi group leader Thomas Sewell is seen during a far right rally in St Kilda, Melbourne, Saturday, January 5, 2019. (AAP Image/Erik Anderson)

Thomas Sewell and Jacob Hersant were allegedly among a group who confronted several hikers in the Cathedral Ranges state park, northeast of Melbourne, in May this year.

Prosecutors say both men are leaders of neo-Nazi organisations, with Sewell tied to the European Australian Movement and Hersant to the National Socialist Movement.

Sewell and Hersant are facing a committal hearing in Melbourne Magistrates Court over allegations they robbed and assaulted the hikers.

It’s alleged Sewell and Hersant were among a group of about 20 alleged neo-Nazi group members in the Sugarloaf Peak area on May 21.

Another group of hikers, who cannot be identified because of concerns for their safety, speculated that the group was “probably the Nazis” who had featured in news reports about groups camping in the Grampians over Australia Day.

One of the hikers took out his phone and began recording them.

It’s alleged one member of the group shouted “antifa” – a reference to a left-wing organisation – and ran towards the hikers who had got into two separate cars.

The driver of one car said his friends were “hysterical” and were yelling in terror, while he was in a panic trying to get away.

The hikers said they saw two of the group, who were wearing all-black outfits with white Celtic cross emblems on the chest, armed with knives.

The man quickly locked the doors but said two car windows were smashed by group members.

“It all happened very quickly, the window smashed and people surrounded the car,” he said.

“As soon as they smashed the window I just wanted to get out of there.”

The man crashed into a boulder in his effort to flee.

“I heard many people saying ‘get out of the car’ throughout the whole thing,” he said.

They were able to drive away after handing over their phones.

Prosecutors say DNA matching Sewell and Hersant was found on the car, while two fingerprints matching Sewell were also discovered.

Hersant’s car was searched by police shortly after the incident and officers found a balaclava and camera inside. The camera included photos of the group allegedly taken that day.

The hearing is set to continue on Thursday.

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