Luke Lazarus leaves Downing Centre Court in Sydney after his sentencing hearing last month. Photo: Janie Barrett
Convicted rapist Luke Lazarus jailed for at least three years
A man found guilty of sexually assaulting a young woman in an alleyway behind a Kings Cross nightclub owned by his family is set to appeal his conviction.
Solicitors for Luke Andrew Lazarus lodged the necessary papers with the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal five days after the 23-year-old was sentenced a minimum of three years’ jail.
Along with his conviction, Lazarus is also appealing the maximum five-year sentence handed down by Judge Sarah Huggett on March 27. He has engaged the services of Back Schwartz Vaughan, an eastern suburbs law firm that specialises in liquor licensing.
The Lazarus family own a number of well-known licensed premises including Soho and The Eastern at Bondi Junction. Lazarus was convicted by a jury in February over the sexual assault of 18-year-old woman in an alleyway behind the Soho Nightclub on Victoria Street in Potts Point in May 2013.
Lazarus approached his victim on the dance floor introducing himself as a part owner of the venue. He then offered to introduce her to the DJ before saying instead they would go into a VIP area. But Lazarus took the woman, who was a virgin, to the lane way where he anally raped her before demanding she put her name in his phone.
In handing down the sentence, Judge Huggett described the attack as the “spontaneous and opportunistic” actions of a young man who felt a sense of “power and entitlement” by virtue of his family’s connection to the Soho club. His victim told the court, via a victim impact statement read on her behalf, that she would never be the person she was before the attack.
“I thought that once I left the alleyway the pain would go away … but it didn’t,” the woman’s statement said.
“Everything that made me who I was stayed in that alleyway.”
Lazarus said he had sex with the woman but that it had been consensual. Lazarus said the fact he had “done this unknowingly” made him “absolutely sick to my stomach”.
“What happened on that evening I honestly believe it was consensual,” Lazarus told the court.
After Lazarus was sentenced NSW Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Pru Goward slammed a series of prominent public figures who offered him character references.
Those figures included Waverley mayor Sally Betts, the honorary secretary of the Honorary Consulate-General of Greece in Brisbane, Tsambico K. Athanasas, and South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby league club chairman Nick Pappas, who all declared their shock at Lazarus’ conviction and vouched for his good character in references prior to sentencing.
Ms Goward said those high-profile people had not only diminished their own standing, but could discourage victims from coming forward.
Cr Betts came under fire again this week for proposing education sessions to teach girls how to minimise their “risky behaviour”.
She told a local paper that she is working with police and Waverley Action for Youth Services to introduce “a new risky behaviour education program to try and help young women understand and better deal with being in vulnerable situations”.
However, Waverley Action for Youth Services (WAYS) distanced itself from Cr Betts’ idea, saying there was no new program and they would never undertake a program that involved “victim blaming”.
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