A Sydney man has been cleared of raping a teenager in the laneway outside his father’s Kings Cross nightclub after a retrial.
Luke Andrew Lazarus, now 25, was sentenced in 2015 to at least three years’ jail over the 2013 rape of an 18-year-old woman on her first night out in Kings Cross but his conviction was later quashed on appeal.
Retrial judge Robyn Tupman on Thursday found him not guilty of anally raping the woman, who had alleged she was assaulted behind the Soho nightclub, partially owned by Mr Lazarus’ father Andrew.
“I have come to the determination that the Crown has not established that there were no reasonable grounds for believing the complainant was not consenting,” Judge Tupman said before acquitting him.
Mr Lazarus exhaled and put his head back as the verdict was handed down and then hugged a crying supporter.
The judge-alone retrial in the District Court heard Mr Lazarus had met the woman, who can’t be named for legal reasons, on the dance floor where he told her he was a part-owner of the nightclub and offered to introduce her to the DJ in the VIP area.
Judge Tupman found Mr Lazarus had tried to have vaginal intercourse with the woman before making a comment about her being “tight”.
“What do you expect, I’m a f***ing virgin,” the teenager told him.
It was likely Mr Lazarus replied “S*** really?” before asking the woman to get on her hands and feet, Judge Tupman found.
He tried to have vaginal sex with her again before moving to her anus, the court heard.
Judge Tupman found the woman’s evidence that she said “stop” was unreliable partially on the basis she was wrong about other parts of the night.
The judge deemed Mr Lazarus to be of good character.
After the act, Mr Lazarus asked the woman to add her name to a “trophy list” of women he kept in his phone.
A female promoter for the club said he was a “nice guy” and she had been “shocked” by the allegation.
“He was someone we would go to if we were feeling uncomfortable with another guy to save us,” the woman, who can’t be named, said.
During the trial, prosecutor Cate Dodds asked Mr Lazarus why he didn’t take the clearly upset woman to a hotel, back to his granny flat in Vaucluse or book her a taxi home, to which he replied: “I agree I was not a gentleman.”