After a mammoth trial, Guy Sebastian‘s former manager Titus Day has been found guilty of embezzling some of the $900,000 the singer claimed he was owed.
The former colleagues have been embroiled in a mammoth court case for some weeks now after Sebastian discovered funds had gone missing across his decade-spanning partnership with Day.
On July 1, the New South Wales District Court found Day guilty of more than 30 charges, however, he was acquitted of others.
Deliberations began on June 23.
This follows a ruling on May 9 that saw Day found not guilty on three counts, with 47 other embezzlement charges still to be considered at the time.
Before the verdict was cast, the case had been interrupted several times due to numerous significant occurrences, including the death of its first judge, Peter Zahra SC, and jurors falling ill.
Sebastian also contracted COVID-19 during proceedings.
Speaking out for the first time since the guilty verdict on July 1, Sebastian said it was “shocking” to learn of the extent to which Day “betrayed” him.
“It was not only shocking but heartbreaking to discover the depth of betrayal and dishonesty that I uncovered over these last four-and-a-half-years,” he wrote on Instagram.
“There’s nothing more important than trust in an artist/manager relationship. The thing is, Titus was more than just my manager, he was one of my closest mates.”
The singer also said the proceedings were “tougher” than he anticipated, and often felt at times that he was the one on trial, “rather than the victim”.
Jules Sebastian Took the Stand as a Witness in the Embezzlement Trial Against Titus Day
Sebastian’s wife, Jules Sebastian, briefly took the stand as a witness on Thursday, June 2, to explain that she was offered $15K to be an ambassador for PlayKids, an early childhood education app.
Mrs Sebastian told the court that her takings from the ambassadorship were $6403, which she received from Day.
Her appearance in court came after a jury was informed that her husband received a large sum to the tune of $2.9 million for a six-show tour. The jury also heard that the singer contacted a superfan to aid in the case against his ex-manager.
Damien Luscombe, the boss of White Sky accounting firm, took to the witness box that same day to give evidence relating to his work managing Sebastian’s finances in 2015.
During cross-examination from Day’s barrister, Dominic Toomey SC, Luscombe agreed that his company received a document showing a financial breakdown of Sebastian’s Breakdown tour.
The court heard that the document was prepared by Dan Redgrave, the tour manager, and showed a total income of $2.9 million.
After tour costs — including $712,000 for venue charges and $1.5 million for on-road costs — were deducted, the jury was told that Sebastian pocketed close to $236,000 in profit.
As Day’s contract with Sebastian exhibited, the singer’s former manager was entitled to 20 per cent of the takings, or $47,000.
Guy Sebastian’s Superfan Christan Bugno Gave Evidence
Christian Bugno, one of Sebastian’s super fans, was next to give evidence via video link from Las Vegas.
Bugno told the court that after Sebastian performed at his 21st birthday over ten years ago, he paid The Voice coach to perform at his wedding in Venice in 2016.
When questioned further about his relationship with the singer, the super fan admitted he gave “untrue” information to the court. He confessed that he had communication with Sebastian more recently than “many years” ago, as he had previously testified.
He also added that Sebastian had pleaded with him via text message to assist in the trial, as recently as May 24.
“Brother sorry but this is so urgent cause I’m in court, is there any way you could find out who paid for Titus’ flight to Venice. [sic]” The ex Australian Idol winner texted about an hour after he finished giving evidence at court.
It was then heard that Bugno told the singer that he and his father covered the cost of Sebastian and Day’s flights to attend the Venice wedding.
Sebastian responded: “Thanks brother that is amazing timing … I’ll call you once this is done and I’m finished giving evidence… sorry to trouble you with this”.
It was then revealed that Bugno and Sebastian had further discussions about the former’s communication with Vogue Entertainment Agency, which was initially enlisted to help arrange the performer’s gig at the wedding.
After Sebastian asked if the agency was used to book the gig, Bugno replied via text stating, “no we did it directly with Titus and 6 Degrees” [sic].
“I will elaborate once this is all over… thanks for chasing this,” Sebastian responded. “I’m so embarrassed I’m having to include you in this.”
Bugno concluded the thread: “Bro don’t be embarrassed, here to help and provide evidence and information that is needed. [sic]”
Guy Sebastian Denied Ripping Off His Manager Titus Day
During previous questioning, Sebastian denied ripping off his manager by not revealing he performed a show at a car dealership for a $30,000 payday.
The singer told Downing Centre District Court on Wednesday that he performed a gig at a Toyota Dealership on February 2, 2017.
Having recently bought a four-wheel-drive from the dealership, Sebastian said he may have told a journalist at the event that he was performing for free. However, he could not be certain if he had, in fact, received payment.
“I can’t remember,” he said. “I may have been.”
Still, had he been paid Sebastian said he would have disclosed this to Day, who was entitled to 20 per cent of any performance fee.
When pressed as to whether he could have forgotten to disclose payment, the Gold singer said it “would not have been an intention” to do so.
Records Show Guy Sebastian WAS Paid for Car Dealership Gig
Day’s barrister then showed Sebastian financial records that detailed payments from the dealership amounting to $30K.
Mr Toomey then suggested Sebastian had not told his manager about the performance, to which he reiterated would not have been “intentional”.
“I don’t recall getting paid that. It was never, ever even close to an intention for me to ever rip Mr Day off, ever,” he said. “And if that’s an isolated thing I will look at that. I will cop that. That obviously is not great.”
Guy Sebastian Recalls Facing a Home Intruder
Under cross-examination during the trial, the singer recounted a time that he had to rush back to his house from his recording studio as an intruder was trying to break into his home.
The incident was relevant as it was included as a part of an Apprehended Violence Order that Day had taken out against his former client several years ago, after Sebastian had reported the alleged embezzlement to police.
“I had a brand newborn. I was at the recording studio and had a call from my wife. A person was trying to get through the little boy’s window,” Sebastian explained.
He described coming home to find an intruder “swinging on the gate” of his Maroubra home.
“I grabbed him and held him while my wife was on the phone to the police. I chased after him, he started to leg it.”
Day’s lawyer question Sebastian as to if he “headbutted” the intruder. The Voice judge said that he had not, but, “has told people” that he did.
“I agree I’ve told people I headbutted him… not as an intentional headbutt. You’re implying I headbutted him as an intentional act.”
Sebastian said he was of the belief that Day was “trying to weaponise” the incident by including it in his AVO.
The Judge Presiding Over the Case Tragically Died
On May 9, the case – which has been staggering from the outset – was rocked once again after the judge who was hearing the trial tragically passed away.
Peter Zahra suffered a stroke and was rushed to Royal Prince Alfred hospital in Sydney’s Inner West, where he later sadly passed away.
The jury was informed of the news by Judge James Bennett on Monday morning.
Day’s trial – which began on May 3 – had to be adjourned until the next week.
The announcement came less than a week after Sebastian revealed that he had contracted Covid-19, which itself stalled procedings already.
Guy Sebastian’s Earnings Were Exposed During the Trial
Since the hearing began, records have revealed the ‘Battle Scars’ singer’s huge payday.
The amounts that Sebastian was paid for various appearances were disclosed in court, with the largest sum totalling $494,360. The singer was paid the almost half-a-million-dollar fee to support Taylor Swift during the Australian leg of her 2013 The Red Tour.
Accordingly, The Voice Australia judge was so cashed up that he failed to notice he was missing almost $1 million.
Sebastian reportedly only detected this when he found “anomalies” in his financial records, after having terminated his contract with Day in 2017.
He launched a civil claim against him the following year. The talent manager was later arrested in July 2020.
Why Is Guy Sebastian’s Manager Titus Day On Trial?
Day — who served as Sebastian’s agent between 2013 and 2020 — is currently facing 50 charges of embezzlement as a clerk or servant, plus 50 counts of stealing. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.
The charges are in relation to over $900,000 of missing performance fees and royalties that Day allegedly received on Sebastian’s behalf over the course of seven years.
The Crown has claimed that Day kept the portions of money for himself, rather than forwarding it to his client.
Sebastian is expected to give evidence against his former manager throughout the trial, which is taking place at Sydney’s Downing Street court and is expected to last for at least five weeks.
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