NOT GUILTY: Man accused of burglary found not guilty

UPDATE: 

AN Ipswich jury has found Rudi Gregoratos not guilty of burglary and stealing following a week-long trial.

In Ipswich District Court Mr Gregoratos, 31, from Riverhills, faced charges following an alleged incident at the Springfield Lakes home of a sex worker in December 2015.

Two other charges were withdrawn by the Crown during the trial.

As part of his defence, Gregoratos' legal team argued that he'd been the victim of a drug rip-off, and had been exercising an honest claim of right.

The trial heard he'd entered the house carrying a machete and a pole but no threats were made.

Mr Gregoratos was formally acquitted by Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren SC of all charges.

Mr Gregoratos told the QT he was glad to put the matter behind him. "The charges and trial were incredibly stressful and financially crippling, but to be acquitted by the jury means I can now return to the most important things in life; family, work and community," he said.

 

INITIAL: 

A SEX worker dropped her client off by taxi at a Goodna park while she was meant to get drugs for him, but never returned.

Finding himself marooned in the park late at night her client, Rudi Gregoratos, got a taxi home.

But a few nights later, Springfield Lakes sex worker Natasha Dixon was the victim of an assault in her own home by a mate of Gregoratos.

The incident put Gregoratos on trial for robbery, accused of walking into her house armed with a machete and a pole and stealing a mobile phone from her housemate.

In the trial before the District Court in Ipswich, Gregoratos, 31, from Riverhills, pleaded not guilty to charges of committing burglary in the night when armed/in company at Daisy St, Springfield Lakes in December 2015; and armed robbery of Alan Holmes when in company.

Part of his defence was a belief that it was his claim of right.

WITNESS: Sex worker Natasha Dixon who uses the alias 'Bella Maxwell' gave evidence in the trial of her client Rudi Gregoratos.
WITNESS: Sex worker 'Bella' Maxwell gave evidence in the trial of her client Rudi Gregoratos. Ross Irby

Mr Holmes and his brother Michael were housemates of Ms Dixon and both gave evidence.

When Ms Dixon, who uses the working alias 'Bella Maxwell', heard a knock at the door that night she let in Faamanu Pei, believing him to be a client.

Mr Pei, a former Forest Lake schoolmate of Gregoratos said he told Ms Dixon that he wasn't there for sex, but to collect $500 she'd allegedly been given by Gregoratos for drugs.

"She tried to scratch me so I punched her in the face," he said.

The one punch bloodied her nose, the injury leaving a trail of blood along the white-tiled floor.

"He said he'd been ripped off, needed a hand to retrieve the money," Pei said, explaining why he went.

"The deal was because the sex worker ripped him off, I was to pose as a client to get into the home. Said he gave her money for drugs but she didn't get them."

Pei said Gregoratos, who walked in soon after he did with the machete and pole, yelled out as whether anyone else was in the house - then told both brothers to get down on the floor.

Cross-examined by defence barrister John Fraser, Pei said he did remember Ms Dixon saying something like; sorry but she hadn't got the money.

In the week-long trial which ends today, Ms Dixon said the financial transaction for her services was done by Gregoratos.

He got his mother to put $450 into the worker's bank account for him that night - "my NAB records show his mother paid".

Ms Dixon later left him at the park to get him out of the house because he was making her uneasy, saying that she believed he'd been on ice a few days and was; "a bit jittery, a bit jumpy, just a vibe he was giving off".

She denied he gave her $500.

"It was to get drugs," Mr Fraser said.

"No, I disagree," she said.

Ms Dixon said she was clean now but had been "drug f**ked back then".

She agreed that neither her handbag, wallets or credit cards were taken on the night two men went to her home.

 

WITNESS: Faamanu Pei says he punched a sex worker in her face while helping out an old school mate, in evidence given at the Ipswich District Court trial of Rudi Gregoratos.
Faamanu Pei says he punched a sex worker in her face while helping out an old school mate. Ross Irby

In his recorded interview with police that was played to the jury, Gregoratos said he did go to see a prostitute working from that house a few nights before the robbery and that his mother put the $450 into the sex worker's account, unaware what it was for.

He said they smoked ice that night then left the house at 1am in a taxi to get more drugs before he was dropped off at the park, the worker failing to return.

Gregoratos said he didn't pay any money for drugs as believed it was to be "complimentary" as he'd paid for two hours of her service, but had sex for only half an hour.

He said he "had no more money to give her".

"She was a junkie b**ch. She was just f***ing around the house, (roaming) room to room. Off there, off here," he said.

When police queried if he thought her drug offer would make up for "the f**k around", Gregoratos said "I guess so".

"I don't think I really wanted sex with her," he said.

"No, I wasn't so direct (as to say that).

"She got the idea that I wasn't really too impressed with the service."

The court heard that in between that night and the robbery allegation, he spent time hanging out with his parents and been out and about driving with them.

In his final defence submission, Mr Fraser said the incident has "the classic hallmarks of a drug rip-off", saying that essentially the plan was to get the $500 back.

"It is consistent with someone going there on an honest claim of right," he said.

Mr Fraser said Gregoratos was not guilty of the robbery as he was exercising this honest claim of right and not guilty to stealing the phone as no one saw him take it.

Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren SC will give directions to the jury before they retire to consider their verdict.