Demons beneath glamour facade
On the surface, Melbourne nightclub identity Darren “Razzle” Thornburgh lived a life of glamour and hedonism.
His lavish late-night venue Boutique was a revolving door for celebrities since it opened in Melbourne’s affluent southeast in 2001, with the well-connected club-owner always at its centre.
But the reality was different to the glamorous facade. Amid personal, professional and financial troubles, the 53-year-old was found dead at his property in the regional Victorian town of Barmah, near the NSW border, at 4.10pm on Monday.
His body was found by police on a mattress on the home’s front porch. He had suffered head injuries. “We are not looking, at this stage, for any other person in relation to this death,” Inspector Joy Arbuthnot said in Barmah yesterday, adding that police would continue to investigate his “very troubled background”.
Nightclub sources said that at the time of his death Mr Thornburgh was in debt, struggling with a drug problem, and had run-ins with bikies. “He was a very, very troubled man,” a friend said.
The Prahran club, which in its heyday hosted Paris Hilton, One Direction’s Niall Horan, Jason DeRulo and Kim Kardashian, has traded only sporadically for the past two years.
It is believed Mr Thornburgh had a firearms licence and owned guns. In October last year, shots were fired at Boutique. A week later the home of his ex-wife in Port Melbourne was sprayed with bullets while his teenage daughter was sleeping. Police at the time looked into whether an organised crime gang was responsible.
Mr Thornburgh split from his wife Denise several years ago. She declined to comment yesterday, but posted on Facebook: “Could all you disco idiots out there have some respect and integrity for his children.”
It is also understood Mr Thornburgh had a troubled relationship with his sister. Federal Court documents show she filed bankruptcy proceedings against him in 2011.
“The relationship between them was very bad — they didn’t talk for years,” a family friend said. “He was a nice guy when he was normal. He was a troubled man towards the end.”
He was close to his daughters, Mia and Zoe, who spent time with him at his Barham property, away from their permanent home with their mother in Port Melbourne.
“For most people if you tell them who your dad is or what he does they prob don’t care or have any opinion about it or him, good or bad. For me that’s def not the case,” one of his daughters wrote on social media on Mr Thornburgh’s birthday this year. “Our family is off the charts nuts but Dad, I can say that I am so lucky to have you as the one man in my life I can depend on and thank you.” Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467, MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.
Police examine the scene after the discovery of Darren Thornburgh’s body on the front porch of his house in Barmah
Thornburgh with Nicky and Paris Hilton; with wife Denise, Molly Meldrum and Millie Minogue; and with Monika Clarke