On 13 May 2013, Luke Andrew Lazarus, 23, sexually assaulted an 18-year-old girl who had been on her first night out in Sydney with a friend.
The Greek Australian man forced himself on her in a Kings Cross alleyway, behind his father’s popular nightspot SOHO on Victoria Street, Potts Point.
The attack has seriously affected the young woman’s life, as she was a virgin, something she told Lazarus while he ripped her stockings.
The victim, as she testified to the court, spent the following days sitting in a bath and has been struggling with depression for two years.
“I couldn’t breathe, I kept crying until I physically couldn’t any more,” the woman told.
“Part of me died that night.
“I hate that my siblings have had to see their ‘tough little sister fall apart’,” she added.
Lazarus told his sentencing hearing that the victim’s life isn’t the only one ‘completely destroyed’.
After Fairfax Media publicised his conviction earlier this month he said he had not been able to function.
“I feel as though my life, at least in Australia, has been completely destroyed,” Andrew Luke Lazarus told during his hearing.
“I essentially had the world at my feet. I could have been a CEO.”
“Now I have to live the rest of my life with every person in Australia, or at least Sydney, knowing that I have been convicted of a sex offence.
“I still 100 per cent state I believe everything that happened on that night was consensual,” he told the court, claiming the girl was a willing participant because “she didn’t physically resist, scream or say no”.
The victim, as well as Sydney District Court Judge Sarah Huggett, firmly disagree, describing the attack as the “spontaneous and opportunistic actions of a young man who felt a sense of power and entitlement”.
Lazarus met his victim on the dance floor, told her he was a part owner of the club and offered to introduce her to the DJ before taking her to ‘the VIP area’. After luring her into the alley, they kissed but then the victim asked to return to her friend. The man refused and as she went to leave, he pulled her stockings and skirt down and demanded “put your f—ing hands on the wall”.
Lazarus then forced her to go down on all fours, arching her back. The victim told the court she was frightened and numbed when he didn’t stop and went on to anally rape her.
“I’m a virgin,” she said, “but he wouldn’t stop.
“I never knew what it was like to feel so helpless.”
Ten minutes later, he gave her his mobile phone, and demanded she added her name to a list of women’s names.
“I thought that once I left the alleyway the pain would go away … but it didn’t.”
“Everything that made me who I was stayed in that alleyway. I’ll never be who I was. I had to rebuild myself with what I had left,” the woman said.
Lazarus burst into tears during his hearing, stating that the woman’s statement made him “sick to the stomach” and he couldn’t bear the thought of “unknowingly” having done this to someone.
By his own admission he had an “inflated sense of power and entitlement”, especially while being in his father’s club, where he had “more confidence than any other place”.
Very confident, however, were the text messages Lazarus sent to his friend the afternoon after the assault, found by the detectives who seized his phone.
“I honestly have zero recollection of calling you … Was a sick night – took a chick’s virginity,” he sent to a friend.
“Bahahahaha nice popping does cherries …” the other replied.
“It’s a pretty gross story tell ya later,” Lazarus wrote back.
A psychiatrist, Dr Christopher Rikard-Bell, told the court that Lazarus was also suffering from adjustment disorder as a result of his recent break-up with an American woman his family did not approve of because she wasn’t Greek. He had also experienced bullying at school for being short, which had also affected him.
Lazarus was sentenced to a maximum jail term of five years and will be eligible for parole in March 2018. Judge Huggett accepted he has shown some remorse and that he is unlikely to repeat his actions.
His father, who as he told the court in a written statement “hoped and intended to keep the matter quiet”, is putting his share of the SOHO club up for sale, after 19 years. The once popular venue “has suffered a major backlash” after his son’s conviction.