A neo-Nazi who punched a black security guard after the man reacted to being called a racial slur is facing jail time after being found guilty of the vicious assault.
Warning: This story contains racist language
Thomas Sewell, 29, has appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court where he has been fighting charges of recklessly causing injury and unlawful assault outside the Nine Network's headquarters at the Docklands in 2021.
Sewell, who recently duped a Melbourne restaurant into celebrating Adolf Hitler's birthday, tried to claim that the brutal attack was in defence of his friend and fellow white nationalist, Jacob Hersant, who was filming outside the television network.
Moments before the attack, the court heard that Mr Hersant said to the security guard: "Dance monkey, dance".
But Magistrate Stephen Ballek rejected Sewell's self-defence narrative and said that the men were acting "confrontationally, provocatively and mockingly".
He said that Sewell was "itching for a fight" and that he and Mr Hersant were "goading" the security guard.
"It seems to me that the very second you perceived any physical contact from [the victim] on Mr Hersant, you left him with sustained and unjustified violence, which you later sought to justify," the magistrate said.
"The video evidence graphically shows the disturbing nature of a strong man brutally punching an unsuspecting victim to the face, such that he falls backwards and strikes his head on the pavement
"I find you, Thomas Sewell, guilty".
Sewell was on Tuesday supported in court by a man who did a Nazi salute.
Sewell and friend rebuffed at Channel Nine headquarters
In March 2021, Sewell and his friend, Mr Hersant, went to the Nine Network's headquarters at the Docklands and demanded to speak to someone from A Current Affair.
When no one from the program was willing to speak to them, the pair began to film in the television station's foyer but were asked to stop by the victim, who was working as a security guard.
Magistrate Ballek on Tuesday told the court that the victim was conciliatory and polite, and that his body language was "calm, measured and courteous".
"[He] had his hands out in an open gesture … his demeanour was polite but firm," the magistrate said.
"On the contrary, your body language is different. You circle around, you point your finger aggressively."
Eventually Sewell and Mr Hersant left the building but started filming again outside the door.
They were followed by the victim who asked them to film beyond the building's drain line.
'Despicable racial taunt' levelled at security guard
The court heard that Mr Hersant then turned the camera on the security guard.
"Perhaps aware that he's being filmed and perhaps still trying to remain upbeat and possibly to defuse the situation, [the victim] then changes strike into what appears to be a few steps and a dancing type motion into the camera," Magistrate Ballek said.
"Mr Hersant … immediately then says, in a taunting and mocking tone, 'Dance, monkey, dance,'" the magistrate said.
The comment, which Magistrate Ballek described as a "despicable racial taunt", sparked a reaction from the security guard.
"Watch yourself bro, I'm not a dance monkey," the guard said.
The court heard that the security guard then "slowly and deliberately" pushed Mr Hersant in the shoulder, which caused Sewell to "spring into action" and punch his victim.
"[The victim] has no time to react," Magistrate Ballek said.
"You then place your left hand on [the victim's] shoulder as you deliver a flurry of punches directly to [his] face.
"The force and repetition of the punches forces [the victim] to fall backwards, striking his head heavily on the paved surface of the forecourt."
After the fight ended, Sewell said to his victim: "You can't put your hands on people. You f***ed with the wrong person."
Magistrate Ballek said there was no evidence that the security guard attacked Mr Hersant or was "enraged" .
"[The victim] dealt with the situation admirably," he said.
"To respond the way he did … showed in my view considerable self-control in the face of a very challenging situation."
Sewell will return to court in January next year for a plea hearing, where his lawyers will tender character references.