Thomas Sewell: Details of alleged neo-Nazi attack on hikers aired in court
A terrified hiker has told a court of the chaotic moment he came face to face with a group of alleged neo-Nazis on a Victorian mountain.
Thomas Sewell, 28, and Jacob Hersant, 22, are accused of attacking a group of hikers they crossed paths with at Mt Sugarloaf, north of Melbourne, on May 8.
They both faced a committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday charged with armed robbery, affray, theft and other offences including bail breaches.
The men will enter a plea at the end of the hearing.
The pair were allegedly among a group of up to 15 men wearing black T-shirts emblazoned with a white Celtic cross who punched, smashed windows and threatened the hikers with knives, the court heard.
Prosecutors say both men are leaders of neo-Nazi organisations.
Mr Sewell is the leader of European Australian Movement and Mr Hersant is the head of the National Socialist Movement, prosecutor Danielle Guesdon told the court.
Both groups hold far-right views including white supremacy.
“It was very quick and chaotic,” a hiker, who cannot be identified, told the court.
He told the court he was in the driver’s seat of his car when a friend in the back started to film the black-clad men and the group spotted him.
The car was surrounded and men started to punch, kick and smashed the windows of the car with the driver seeing a man near his window brandishing a blade, the witness said.
He told the court he didn’t understand what was happening or why they had been attacked.
Men were shouting at them to get out of the car and demanding for them to hand over their phones, he told the court.
The court heard they handed over their mobiles but another passenger put his phone under the seat, and the hikers were able to flee.
He only found out afterwards that his friend had filmed the other group on the phone but said he didn’t know why.
“He still hasn’t told me.”
The hiker said he was afraid to make a police statement and was “traumatised” after the incident.
Prosecutor Danielle Guesdon told the court Mr Hersant was seen by the alleged victims as the “leader” and alleges he was the man who demanded the phones be handed over.
DNA and fingerprints from both Mr Sewell and Mr Hersant were both found on the car, she said.
But the hiker said he couldn’t pick out who his attackers were and some were wearing face coverings.
“The person who smashed the window I don’t know who that was,” he said.
Defence lawyers for the pair said identity was a key issue in the case.
In a bizarre moment near the end of the hearing a man known as “Jimeone Roberts” appeared on the online hearing with a “Free Tom” slogan with a cross symbol on his forehead.
The hearing in front of magistrate Peter Reardon continues on Thursday.
Originally published as Thomas Sewell: Details of alleged neo-Nazi attack on hikers aired in court
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails