Guy Sebastian’s former manager has been found not guilty on three counts after being accused of stealing nearly $900,000 from the pop star.
Titus Day was acquitted by a NSW District Court jury of three counts of embezzlement amid a lengthy trial on Thursday.
Judge Tim Gartelmann ordered the jury to return verdicts of not guilty on three counts of embezzlement after prosecutors admitted Day had no case to answer.
Day managed Sebastian through 6 Degrees between 2009 and 2017 and is accused of embezzling the musician from nearly $900,000 between 2013 and 2020.
The 49-year-old pleaded not guilty to 50 counts, including fraudulent misappropriation of royalties and performance fees allegedly owed to Sebastian.
Guy Sebastian (pictured with wife Jules) has accused his former manager of stealing nearly $900,000 between 2013 and 2020
Titus Day (pictured) was acquitted by a NSW District Court jury of three counts of embezzlement amid a lengthy trial on Thursday
He also denies 50 alternative counts of larceny or theft.
Day says Sebastian owed him money on commissions, gifts he received, and the cost of flights to attend the groom’s wedding in Venice.
Judge Gartelmann said the prosecution failed to prove Day stole a combined $14,600 on those three counts and they should be deported.
Defense barrister Dominic Toomey filed for an acquittal after the prosecution ended, which Crown prosecutor David Morters agreed to after admitting there was no evidence.
“There was simply no evidence that the accused committed the act alleged to constitute one of those offences,” he said.
The charges accused Day of embezzling royalty payments of $13,380.60, $936 and $361.34 between 2014 and 2020.
Judge Gartelmann also told the jury that if they found Day not guilty on any of the remaining 47 counts, he should also be acquitted on the additional counts of the lesser felony theft.
“I’m telling you this…so you can ignore, from now on, the alternate counts and focus on the main counts,” he said.
Guy Sebastian (pictured) insists everything he did was according to the book, the court heard on Monday
Judge Gartelmann stressed that this did not mean he had any idea of the strength of the Crown’s case, saying his decision only concerned questions of law.
He said the trial would end much earlier than expected because the defense had presented no evidence.
“The accused exercised his right to silence by refusing to do so. He had no obligation to testify or call anyone,” he said.
“The defendant does not need to prove anything at all… the fact that he did not call or provide evidence cannot be used against him in any way. No deduction can be drawn from this.
The jury was told of an “acrimonious and hostile” rift between the manager and the musician, before Sebastian filed a civil complaint against Day in July 2018, when he said he discovered money was owed to him.
Two years later he contacted the police when he allegedly discovered “criminal behaviour”.
But Mr Toomey said his client had an answer to every accusation and suggested authorities may have been seduced by Sebastian’s notoriety.
Day told police the pop singer owed him $1.2 million in unpaid commissions.
‘Why isn’t he arrested for fraud, for not paying me commissions? I don’t understand it,’ he said in the July 2020 interview released to the jury.
Closing arguments will be made when the trial resumes on Tuesday, and then the jury will consider verdicts on the remaining 47 counts.
Jules Sebastian arrives at Downing Center District Court in Sydney to support her husband during his former manager’s embezzlement trial
Sebastian was brought back for questioning earlier this week after texting a witness about evidence in court.
The first Australian Idol winner completed his cross-examination on May 24, but was recalled to NSW District Court this week after another witness revealed the pair exchanged text messages over disputed evidence before that date.
In 2016, Christian Bugno arranged for the artist to perform at his wedding in Venice and said his father paid for business class flights for Sebastian and his then-manager Titus Emanuel Day.
Last week, the witness revealed that Sebastian texted him on May 23 at 12:27 p.m. local time in Las Vegas, where Mr Bugno lives, saying: “Brother sorry but it’s so urgent because I’m to the court”.
The exchange of text messages between Guy Sebastian and Christian Bugno while the former Australian Idol winner was on the witness stand.
Day’s lawyer, Dominic Toomey SC, requested that Sebastian be called back to question him about it.
While Sebastian was ordered by Judge Gartelmann not to discuss his “you must give” testimony, he was given an exemption on May 23 to meet with the Crown about previous testimony.
“Did you think you hadn’t violated that instruction?” said Mr. Toomey.
“Everything I did was true to the book,” Sebastian said.
After being presented in court with an “incorrect invoice”, he knew Mr Bugno would have the flight payment records, so he thought it was a no-brainer to ask him for them, Sebastian said.
Guy Sebastian (pictured with his wife Jules) was brought back for questioning during his former manager’s trial at the NSW District Court
Mr Bugno testified that he first contacted a company called Vogue Entertainment several times to arrange for Sebastian to perform at the wedding.
But when he didn’t hear back, he contacted the singer directly.
He said he received no invoice from Vogue but paid the performance fee to Day’s company, Six Degrees.
Mr Toomey asked Sebastian about the meeting he had with Crown Prosecutor David Morters SC and his junior lawyer.
“I told the Crown I knew I could text her directly. I know Mr. Day didn’t pay for the flights, so I got the information I know they would need, not just my word,” Sebastian said.
Meanwhile, a juror was officially removed for personal reasons, leaving 12 members remaining on the panel.