Prosecutors Seek Harsher Penalty for Neo-Nazis After “Terrifying” Group Attack

Melbourne, Australia – The Director of Public Prosecutions in Victoria is pushing for a harsher penalty for two neo-Nazis involved in a violent group attack that left hikers terrified at the Cathedral Ranges State Park in May 2021.

Thomas Sewell, 31, and Jacob Hersant, 25, were convicted of violent behavior towards the hikers, but received lenient sentences that raised concerns. Sewell spent over six months on remand and was sentenced to 37 days already served, while Hersant was given 200 hours of community service.

Prosecutors argue that the sentence was inadequate for the severity of the offense, which carried a maximum penalty of 10 years. They emphasize that the victims, a group of innocent hikers, were subjected to terrifying acts by the defendants.

Both Sewell and Hersant were leaders of extremist groups at the time of the attack, further highlighting the concerning nature of their actions. The pair, along with other males, engaged in violent conduct towards the hikers, breaking windows, and taking their belongings.

The court of appeal is now reviewing the case, with prosecutors urging for a lengthier prison sentence and a community corrections order to be imposed on the defendants. They argue that Judge Blair’s initial assessment of the offense was too lenient, considering factors like guilty pleas and the risk of reoffending.

Defending Sewell, his barrister emphasized the harsh conditions he experienced during his time in custody and advocated against returning him to prison. Similarly, Hersant’s legal team maintains that the initial sentence was appropriate for a first-time offender with no history of violence.

The outcome of the appeal is pending, as Justices evaluate the arguments from both sides. Despite the legal proceedings, Sewell has dismissed the appeal as a political attack, while describing his time in prison as a period of reflection.