One of two Melbourne men released with time served by Judge Kellie Blair may be back in court very soon.
Jacob Hersant, together with self-proclaimed leader of the National Socialist Network Thomas Sewell, pleaded guilty to violent disorder against three bushwalkers who filmed the pair’s group as they gathered at the Cathedral Range State Park at Taggerty in May 2021.
Blair sentenced Sewell to one month and seven days’ imprisonment, which he has already served.
Hersant was sentenced to three days’ prison time, already served, and ordered to perform 200 hours of community work over 14 months.
Blair said while the offending arose from their association with neo-Nazi groups, she did not consider it to be related to their political views.
When sentencing Sewell, she said she considered the difficult conditions he spent in custody over six months to be sufficient punishment.
Public concern was voiced that the judgement handed down by Blair was inappropriately lenient.
“Good luck with the future gentlemen,” Blair said as she left the bench, and Hersant and Sewell exited the court on Friday, October 27.
Since their arrest, the Victorian Parliament has approved the Summary Offences (Nazi Salute Prohibition) on October 21, 2023.
As the pair left the court Sewell said, “Heil Hitler”.
Hersant repeated “Heil Hitler”, and lifted his arm away from his body before saying, “Nearly did it, it’s illegal now, isn’t it?” and with a laugh lowered his arm.
Victoria Police said in a statement issued on the Friday night that it was investigating allegations that “a man performed the Nazi salute and said Heil Hitler outside the Melbourne court”.
“We will locate and interview this person in relation to this behaviour,” the statement said.
“Police will be taking a zero-tolerance approach to any breach of the prohibition on performing Nazi salutes or displaying Nazi symbols in public.”
According to the legislation, a “Nazi gesture means – (a) a Nazi salute; or (b) any other gesture used by the Nazi Party; or Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Salute Prohibition) Act 2, a gesture that so nearly resembles a gesture referred to in paragraph (a) or (b) that it is likely to be confused with or mistaken for that gesture.”
A person found guilty of contravening the Summary Offences (Nazi Salute Prohibition) legislation could face fines of $23,000, 12 months in prison, or both.