Wed. Jul 6th, 2022

The owner of a gentlemen’s club in Australia where a Manchester-born dancer’s body lay for hours has told a hearing he trusted managers to run the business while he focused on another venture. Owner of the Dreams Gentlemen’s Club in Melbourne Salvatore Aparo told a liquor licensing hearing he is now a hands-on owner, running the club with his fiancĂ©.

Withington-born fitness instructor Stacey Tierney, then 29, was working at the club in 2016 when she died having taken a cocktail of drugs in a private manager’s lounge a week before Christmas.

Stacey told friends she ‘did not enjoy it, but the money was good’, an inquest into her death heard. More than 30 hours passed between Ms Tierney entering the room – the only one not monitored by cameras – and her body being taken from the venue by ambulance officers.

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The club is facing a Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission inquiry into the suitability of Mr Aparo to hold a liquor license.

Mr Aparo told a hearing this week that until Ms Tierney’s death, he had been a ‘hands-off’ operator and trusted others to manage the venue. He said he was running a construction business and had largely delegated the running of the venue to trusted managers, dropping in a few times a week and doing weekly phone calls.

Stacey Tierney

Mr Aparo said the fallout of Ms Tierney’s death had damaged the business’ reputation and put his own plans on hold. He described it as a ‘very emotional rollercoaster’.

While he accepted a ‘lot of responsibility’, it could only go so far, he said. Asked if he put his trust in the wrong people, Mr Aparo said: “We all learn by our mistakes.”

Mr Aparo denied suggestions the club operated after hours and outside its licensing hours. Much of the questioning centered around the manager’s lounge where Ms Tierney was found dead.

Mr Aparo said it was his private refuge when he attended the club, but was not open to other managers and promoters to use. The hearing was told managers and promoters had access to the office and 24-hour access to the venue.

“I do not know why people are implying there are parties – there were no parties, I run a very respectable business,” he said.

There was also a culture of staff drinking at the club on their days off, the hearing heard. “We did not have a rule about top management not being able to come in on their night off,” he said.

He said he had put in new processes and that he could not turn back the clock. “The tragedy is very heartfelt across the board,” Mr Aparo added. “This is something I would not wish on anyone. This is a very, very tragic situation.”

The commission will do an onsite inspection next week and deliver a finding next month.


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