The jury has decided whether Guy Sebastian’s former manager embezzled nearly $900,000 from the music star.
Guy Sebastian’s former manager could face jail after a jury reaches a surprising verdict over the lengthy high-profile trial.
Titus Day was accused of embezzling nearly $900,000 allegedly owed to the singer in the form of royalties for music, performances and ambassador payments.
The jury heard evidence from witnesses, including Mr Sebastian, his wife Jules, accountants and the police officer in charge of the investigation for seven weeks, before making their decision.
In a unanimous decision revealed Thursday afternoon, the jury found Mr Day guilty on some of the charges, but not all of them.
The court was told Day had been found guilty of 34 charges, including the fraudulent misappropriation of more than $620,000 of Mr Sebastian’s earnings, including royalties and performance fees.
However, he was found not guilty on 13 charges.
After the jury made their verdicts, the Crown told the court that they immediately filed a warrant for Day’s arrest.
“It was committed by a person in a position of trust for four years and over half a million dollars was involved,” Crown Prosecutor David Morters SC told the court.
“There is a breach of trust.”
Mr Morsters told the court that Mr Sebastian “put his trust in his manager” and relied on Mr Day to account for the money he received.
“He has systematically taken that money for his own benefit,” Morters said.
Judge Timothy Gartelmann SC told the court there was no alternative to Day being sentenced to a full prison term.
The arrest request has been postponed to Friday.
The verdict justifies two years of legal proceedings initiated by Mr Sebastian to recover funds from his accounts, which were managed by Mr Day.
He became Mr Sebastian’s manager in 2009 when he started his own talent management company 6 Degrees. The court was told the two were good friends, but broke up after a bitter argument in 2017.
After the divorce, Mr. Sebastian claimed that he found discrepancies in his financial records. He took legal action against his former manager to recover the money he owed.
Mr Day responded with a counterclaim, claiming it was he who was owed money by Mr Sebastian – a claim the reality TV show judge denied.
Both men continued to claim that the other owed them money during the heated trial at the Downing Center District Court in Sydney.
In his summary of the facts of the case, Judge Gartelmann told jurors that a conviction was only possible if the Crown proved that Mr Sebastian’s estranged ex-manager was deliberately withholding money owed to the musician.
“It is not enough for the Crown to prove that he (Mr. Day) had in fact no right to use the money as he did,” he said.
“The Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it knew it had no right to use the money as it did at the time.”
Throughout the nearly two-month trial, Judge Gartelmann said the Crown alleged that Mr Day was a veteran celebrity manager who was aware of his actions in handling Mr Sebastian’s money.
The Crown argued that Mr Day has “misappropriated the money” by withdrawing and using it “for purposes other than Mr Sebastian’s benefits,” the judge said.
However, the defense attorney representing Mr Day told the court that his client was entitled to reimbursement of expenses incurred while working for the Australian Idol winner.
“The accused, the defense argues, clearly believed he owed the money,” Judge Gartelmann said.
“The defense acknowledged that the accused withheld (part of) the payments in question…the defense argues that this was because Mr Sebastian owed the money accused.”
The court was told that Mr. Day used some of the money he owed to Mr. Sebastian — including about $187,000 from a Taylor Swift performance — to buy shares on his behalf in a company called My Medical Records. The court heard that Mr. Day was on the company’s board at the time.
However, Mr Day was acquitted of embezzling $39,000 from a British and Irish Lions rugby tour appearance, and other sums ranging from $6,000 to $39,000 and $125,000.
After the dissolution of their eight-year working relationship, Mr Day told the court that he had filed for an arrest warrant against The Voice judge. for fear for his safety because “Guy has a violent history”.
Mr Sebastian denied the claims and the application was rejected.
The lengthy trial was plagued with delays, including the death of the original judge assigned to the case, Mr Sebastian’s Covid-19 diagnosis and health concerns.
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