Neo-Nazi group members plead guilty over graffiti attacks in Perth

The Sydney Morning Herald/August 3, 2004

Members of the neo-Nazi group Australian Nationalist Movement (ANM) have admitted their part in a campaign of racist graffiti in Perth.

ANM members Daniel Tyrone Klavins and Frank James Lemin, and associate Benjamin Weerheym, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to wilfully damaging numerous premises including a police station, a synagogue, kosher food store and a Chinese restaurant.

Police prosecutor Constable Craig McLennan told Perth Magistrates Court that between July 16 and 17 the properties throughout Perth were plastered with posters promoting the ANM and spray-painted with swastikas and racist slogans such as "Hitler was right," "Asians Out" and "Refugees Out."

Klavins also pleaded guilty to defacing Attorney-General Jim McGinty's Fremantle electoral office with graffiti such as "racist traitor."

And both Klavins and Lemin admitted plastering ANM promotional material along the Perth foreshore in 2003 and later in a Perth park where an anti-racist picnic was to be staged.

The right-wing ANM is headed by Jack van Tongeren, who spent 12 years behind bars for a spate of racially-motivated firebombings in Perth in the 1980s.

The court was told that some ANM members were armed and that the group had stockpiled enough equipment to enable it to set up camp in the bush for up to two years.

Lawyer for the three men, Michael Tudori, told the court his clients were easily led and that Mr van Tongeren was a "sweet talker" who could be very persuasive.

Mr Tudori said his clients, who all had troubled family backgrounds, regretted their actions and now denounced the teachings of the ANM.

"They're all three people who felt left out and never felt accepted by their family groups," Mr Tudori said.

"It does, I submit, give rise to how they felt comfort in this group."

He told Magistrate Peter Malone his clients' roles within the ANM were restricted to the distribution of promotional material and they were led to believe that, if caught, it would be considered littering.

After being arrested, charged and remanded on wilful damage charges, Mr Tudori said his clients realised they had been used by senior members of the ANM.

"They have also, in my submission, really woken up to themselves," he said.

"They never once appreciated the seriousness of the matter. They do now."

Klavins has pleaded guilty to 17 counts of wilfully and unlawfully damaging property, while Lemin and Weerheym have pleaded guilty to 11 and 9 counts respectively of the same offence.

They will be sentenced on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Damon Paul Blaxall, also facing charges over the graffiti spree, was remanded in custody until his next appearance on August 17.

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