De­mons be­neath glam­our fa­cade

The Australian - - THE NATION - SIMONE FOX KOOB BEN BUTLER

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.

MARK STE­WART

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

MAR­SHALL DWYER

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