A court has been told that pop artist Guy Sebastian stole money from his manager but has not been charged with a crime, a defence attorney described this as a “breathtaking double standard.”
Titus Day, 49, has pled not guilty to 47 charges of theft after allegedly failing to pay Sebastian royalties and performance fees totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In his closing speech to the NSW District Court trial on Monday, Day’s counsel Dominic Toomey, SC, told the jury that if the Crown’s accusations were accepted, “you would be agreeing that this is a person who decided to resort to a life of crime in his 40s.”
Guy Sebastian has an unblemished reputation
He claimed his client, who had a “unblemished” reputation, had kept $92,250 Sebastian had been paid by Dreamworld, but added in an email that this was for “unpaid commissions,” before outlining each commission and its value.
“At this point in time, each man was saying to the other ‘you owe me money’,” Toomey said. “Far from being dishonest about what he’s doing with the Dreamworld money, he’s saying ‘I’m keeping it, and I’m keeping it because you owe me money on these other things’.
“There wasn’t any dispute that they were commissions Mr Day was entitled to.”
When Sebastian asked that proceeds from a 2017 concert tour in capital cities be sent directly to him instead of Day’s management firm, he knew he was required to pay Day commission, Toomey said Sebastian withheld money.
“It is the most breathtaking double standard, we submit, for the Crown to say to you that when Mr Day withheld money which he was plainly owed he was acting criminally, and yet when Sebastian was having money diverted to him which he knew comprised in part money which was rightfully Mr Day’s, he was not doing anything wrong,” Toomey said. “It is the most breathtaking proposition.”
Sebastian “was aiming to cut him out of it and have it redirected,” Toomey said, adding that his client put “a fair amount of labour” on the concert tour, which was expected to make a profit.
He called it “total absurdity” to imply his client stole or embezzled money when all he did was withhold monies to guarantee he got paid what he was owed.
Toomey spoke to a civil matter in Federal Court in which Day and Sebastian have both accused the other of owing money, and proposed that the case be brought back there.
“You should return not guilty verdicts on all counts, and you should send Mr Day and Mr Sebastian back to the Federal Court of Australia, where it all started, to settle what is, and always has been, a commercial dispute,” Toomey said.
He claimed that his client was handling funds for roughly 30 persons in the same account in exceedingly complex transactions, and that even though some money was not paid to Sebastian, the jury would not believe Day was dishonest.
“Mr Day is on trial for dishonesty, not for sloppiness,” Toomey explained.
On Monday afternoon, Judge Tim Gartelmann began summarising the case to the jury, with deliberations expected to begin on Tuesday.