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Sordid case of gay restaurateur finally concluded

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    Sordid case of gay restaurateur finally concluded - 27-May-2006
    Phillip David Sturm, 50, used to be a leading figure in Auckland's hospitality industry.

    In the High Court at Auckland yesterday the once flashy Porsche-driving restaurateur is facing a bleak future, having been convicted of sexually violating three men he plied with drugs and alcohol.

    The case, which has involved two trials, was finally concluded yesterday and Sturm was sentenced to nine years in prison.

    The aunt of one of his victims, a 19-year-old Sturm picked up off Great North Rd, quietly cried.

    The young man did not know Sturm when walking home at 4am from a night out in November 2002. Sturm, in his black Porsche, picked him up.

    He shouldn't have accepted the lift, Justice Hugh Williams said yesterday, but it was Sturm who created the situation. "He was completely unknown to you but within minutes of picking him up you were plying him with drugs and alcohol."

    Sturm took the 19-year-old to the offices of Restaurant Management, the base from which his restaurants were run.

    Over the next 11 hours, Sturm plied him with ecstasy, speed and alcohol, took him on a visit to a car yard and a restaurant for reasons Justice Williams said still weren't known.

    The man said Sturm attempted to perform a sexual act on him at the office and later at Sturm's Grey Lynn home he was successful. The young man bent over a glass coffee table.

    A doctor who examined him later found a 1cm tear in his anus.

    The man had described graphically the effects the drugs had on him, Justice Williams said.

    "He could do nothing but go along with whatever you said. He's been a lost soul ever since." The man gave up tertiary study.

    His aunt said the family were concerned about ongoing support for all three of the men Sturm offended against. Sturm knew the other two men through the restaurant trade where he ran Otto's in the Metropolis building, Cibo in Parnell and trendy waterfront bar Coast, calling himself "the conductor".

    He was found guilty of sexually violating those men but the 19-year-old was the only victim Sturm was found guilty of stupefying.

    No up-to-date victim impact statements were available for the court because the men had said they wanted nothing more to do with the case, Justice Williams said.

    For Sturm, Paul Davison QC said the offending was opportunistic in many respects and the risk of him reoffending was effectively zero.

    He said the convictions had branded Sturm with a notoriety, which in itself was a significant penalty and would stay with him for life.

    Sturm has maintained the contact was consensual. He now says he never intended to offend against anyone and was remorseful, but two juries have found the contact was not consensual, Justice Williams said.

    "It was you who was more mature and it was you who created the circumstances in which the offending could occur. They took the drugs but you fed them the drugs knowing what would happen."

    A probation report described Sturm as impoverished and facing a bleak future. He served 18 months of a nine-year sentence imposed following the first guilty verdicts and will serve another 18 months before he is eligible for parole after serving the required one-third of the nine-year sentence.

    Justice Williamson sentenced him to nine years for the sexual violation of the 19-year-old and 7 1/2 years for stupefying him. He was sentenced to 7 1/2 years for each of the other four sexual violation charges against the two other victims. All sentences were to be served concurrently.

    Sturm has paid $10,000 in reparation to the men which is to be shared.

    THE ORIGINAL TRIAL

    * In 2003 Sturm was found guilty of 10 counts of sexual violation, attempted violation and indecent assault involving four men.

    * The sentence: Nine years.

    THE APPEAL

    * Sturm claimed his trial had been tainted and the Crown said the jury was wrongly told by the judge it could not convict on the stupefying charges. The Court of Appeal ordered a retrial.

    THE RETRIAL

    * Sturm was found guilty on six charges of drugging and sexually violating three men.

    * The sentence: Nine years.
    Ref: - NZ Herald


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