RAZ­ZLE’S DE­MONS

Drugs, bikies, debt and a court fight. The fall of Mel­bourne’s King of clubs

Herald Sun - - FRONT PAGE - WES HOSK­ING, MARK BUTTLER AND WAYNE FLOWER

A NIGHT­CLUB king found dead in his ru­ral hol­i­day house had been bat­tling ice ad­dic­tion and had re­cently spent time in re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. The Her­ald Sun has learned Dar­ren “Raz­zle” Thornburgh, 54, a fa­ther of two, sought pro­fes­sional help for long-term sub­stance abuse about two weeks ago. He had also been “blind­sided” by the re­cent clo­sure of his high-pro­file Prahran night­club, Bou­tique, as a re­sult of an ap­par­ent ten­ancy dis­pute. Mr Thornburgh, who’d pre­vi­ously been at odds with the Co­manchero bikie gang, is un­der­stood to have been fac­ing se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties in the last few months. He had also faced court in March on charges re­lat­ing to his per­sonal life. He is be­lieved to have shot him­self dead at his ru­ral hol­i­day home at Barmah, about 250km north of Mel­bourne. The body, in blue and white py­ja­mas, was found on a mat­tress on the veranda on Mon­day af­ter­noon. The Her­ald Sun has been told he had bat­tled a co­caine ad­dic­tion for years and was a pro­lific user of ice, and that his life had been “go­ing down­hill quite fast” fol­low­ing a split from his wife.

As re­cently as last week, Mr Thornburgh was re­ar­rang­ing his fi­nan­cial af­fairs. Of­fi­cial pa­per­work showed he had tin­kered with his elab­o­rate cor­po­rate struc­ture.

Dev­as­tated staff at the Barmah Ho­tel, owned by Mr Thornburgh and which is op­po­site his hol­i­day home, watched in dis­be­lief as de­tec­tives in­ves­ti­gated. Po­lice said the death was not sus­pi­cious.

Mr Thornburgh’s ex-wife, Denise Fos­ter, yes­ter­day hit out on so­cial me­dia: “Could all you disco id­iots out there have some re­spect and in­tegrity for his chil­dren? Where the f##k we’re (sic) you all?”

Friends of Mr Thornburgh re­called his par­ty­ing lifestyle.

“I’m sur­prised he didn’t have a heart at­tack with his drug use,’’ one said. “He would party from Wed­nes­day un­til Mon­day and sleep Mon­day and Tues­day.

“That was his life and that went on for years. I feel re­ally sorry for his daugh­ters and his ex-wife, be­cause he put them through a hell of a lot.”

The friend said Mr Thornburgh used Barmah as “a way for him to get away to detox”.

“It was his par­adise. He would go up there, have a small re­lax and feel good about him­self, and then come back and start par­ty­ing.”

Mr Thornburgh had grown fear­ful of his safety af­ter his Port Mel­bourne fam­ily home and his Gre­ville St club were shot up in Oc­to­ber last year. It’s un­der­stood he went into hid­ing at a beach­side car­a­van park af­ter the at­tacks, sus­pected to have been car­ried out by bikies chas­ing debts.

In March, he pleaded guilty in Mel­bourne Mag­is­trates’ Court to charges over a per­sonal mat­ter. He was put on a bond with­out con­vic­tion.

The bus­boy-turned-ty­coon’s life took a fur­ther bad turn weeks ago when it is un­der­stood Bou­tique’s ten­ancy un­ex­pect­edly ceased.

“He had been thrown out — I don’t think he saw it com- ing,’’ the friend said. “He had lost his business.

“It’s that ‘rock star’ story. He lived this in­cred­i­ble life, then the drugs got him and ev­ery­thing just turned bad.

“He did a lot of in­cred­i­ble things in his life. He was known as the night­club king, and I think he for­ever will be.”

Mr Thornburgh had over­come business dif­fi­cul­ties be­fore, fol­low­ing a 2011 bank­ruptcy bat­tle.

A for­mer close ac­quain­tance said “no one could run a night­club bet­ter” but Mr Thornburgh’s some­times “para­noid” and ag­gres­sive ten­den­cies in re­cent years had caused many of those in his cir­cle to be­gin to drift away.

In­spec­tor Joy Ar­buth­not said lo­cal po­lice had dis­cov­ered Mr Thornburgh’s body dur­ing a “rou­tine in­spec­tion”.

The weapon used was found at the scene, and po­lice were still in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

Dar­ren “Raz­zle” Thornburgh pic­tured with Nicky and Paris Hil­ton in 2003 (left). Po­lice at his Barmah home where he was found dead (be­low).

DAR­REN THORNBURGH WITH WIFE DENISE

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.