“It’s a pretty tawdry story. It’s a story of a very brief encounter, in a lane … “
For Luke Andrew Lazarus, 25, that “tawdry” encounter was having consensual sex in a laneway with a woman he met on the dance floor at his father’s Kings Cross nightclub. For the woman, that encounter was rape.
Mr Lazarus entered the witness box in the NSW District Court on Thursday to give evidence in his judge-alone retrial for the alleged sexual assault of the woman, then 18, in the alleyway behind Soho nightclub in the early hours of May 12, 2013.
The court heard that Mr Lazarus, who worked in a marketing role at the club, first approached the woman after they made eye contact when she was on the dance floor.
Mr Lazarus said he told her his family owned the club, flipping out his staff card and licence to prove it, before taking her to the VIP area and introducing her to the DJ.
The pair were “passionate kissing” and touching before Mr Lazarus said he asked her: “Do you want to go somewhere private?”
Mr Lazarus said the woman “was having a good time, she was smiling, laughing” and described himself as moderately intoxicated but able to speak clearly and walk normally.
They left the club together, walked up the laneway and continued kissing.
Mr Lazarus said he thought they were going to have sex and to “progress things”, and told the woman: “Turn around and put your hands on the fence.”
The court heard he made the request in a “conversational” tone and the woman complied with his request.
“That to me was really positive body language suggesting to me that she was as happy to be there as I was,” Mr Lazarus said.
Mr Lazarus said the pair were struggling to have intercourse, and when the woman told him she was a virgin he replied: “Get on your hands and knees and arch your back.”
Asked if, while they were having sex, the woman told him to stop, Mr Lazarus told the court: “Absolutely not.”
After they had sex, Mr Lazarus said he asked the woman to add her name to a list in the notes section of his mobile phone. The list had the names of several other women on it.
“Her demeanour changed. She looked offended and rightfully so,” Mr Lazarus told the court.
“It was that time when I realised what a selfish, a thoughtless, inconsiderate thing I had done and we had just had sex and I had immediately disregarded her. I didn’t feel good about,” Mr Lazarus said.
The court heard that later that day Mr Lazarus messaged a friend that he had a “pretty gross story” to tell.
“I said that to him because it’s a pretty tawdry story. It’s a story of a very brief encounter in a lane which involves anal sex,” he said.
Mr Lazarus gave evidence of his panic when he heard an allegation of sexual assault had been made against him, saying he sought out a friend’s father who was a “distinguished” lawyer. When he thought police might drop the case, he was captured on an intercepted telephone call describing it as the “biggest relief” of his life.
His alleged victim gave evidence earlier this week, saying she felt “scared” during their encounter and repeatedly told Mr Lazarus “I have to go back to my friend”.
The trial continues before Judge Robyn Tupman.