The owner of a strip club where an exotic dancer was found dead in the manager’s lounge has been fined $28,000 and ordered to overhaul its procedures.
UK backpacker Stacey Tierney, 29, was drinking with other staff at an after-work party in the Dreams Gentlemen’s Club in the Melbourne CBD in the early hours of December 18, 2016.
She went to sleep on the floor in the basement lounge about 5am – the only room in the venue without CCTV – and was dead when paramedics were finally called more than 24 hours later about 11.45am on December 19.
Pathology tests revealed Ms Tierney died from ‘multidrug toxicity’ but questions remain about why it took so long for the alarm to be raised despite other people going in and out of the room.
Stacey Tierney (pictured left and right) was found lying partially clothed on a sofa with tests showing she had alcohol plus traces of MDMA, cocaine and heroin in her system
The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission handed down its disciplinary findings on Thursday, noting multiple liquor license breaches in the lead up to Ms Tierney’s death.
The Commission found liquor was supplied outside trading hours, intoxicated persons were allowed to remain on the premises, alcohol was supplied to intoxicated persons, and that the venue failed to provide sufficient supervision, codes of conduct or ‘house rules’ on drugs and alcohol.
It also found the club’s owner Salvatore Aparo was unsuitable to hold a liquor license when Ms Tierney died.
His company Aparo Management Enterprises Pty Ltd has been given three months to pay $28,000 in fines for the breaches.
British backpacker, Stacey Tierney (pictured), died from a cocktail of drugs in a private manager’s lounge at the strip club where she worked as a dancer
An independent risk management consultant has also been engaged to completely overhaul the strip club’s operations including training, alcohol service and closing procedures and review them every three months.
A 24-hour alarm system will also be installed that will notify the owner if the alarm is not set within two hours of closing for the night.
Although Mr Aparo was not present when Ms Tierney died, the commission found he failed to properly supervise operations or have adequate safety procedures in place.
The commission was told there was a culture of staff drinking at the club on their days off.
Although Miss Tierney said she did not like the work at the club (pictured) the money was good, a court heard
‘We did not have a rule about upper management not being able to come in on their night off,’ Mr Aparo said.
He was running a construction business and delegated the running of Dreams Gentlemen’s Club to others, while he visited on a few days each week.
He said he was a ‘hands-off’ owner, but that he is now a hands-on manager, running the club in Elizabeth St with his fiancé.
VGCCC commissioner Danielle Hunter said: ‘The commission expects venue staff to go back home safely after their shift’.
‘However, in what is a tragic set of circumstances this didn’t eventuate for Ms Tierney and we offer our condolences to her family,’ she said.
Alison Mutch, senior coroner for South Manchester recorded an open verdict into Miss Tierney’s death, saying there was still ‘unanswered questions’ surrounding her death
‘Management and staff regularly consumed alcohol in the manager’s lounge and there were no systems in place to control the removal and consumption of alcohol which contributed to the misuse and abuse of alcohol.’
‘However, we acknowledge the director’s remorse and since 2017, he has had visibility into all the operations of the business, including implementing practices, policies and procedures to protect staff, contractors and patrons,’ Ms Huntersmith said.
Ms Tierney had been partying with several staff members that night including general manager Stephen Kyriacou, duty manager Giuseppe Crupi and recruitment co-ordinator Thomas Mesfun.
The commission banned Kyriacou and Mesfun from being involved in managing any licensed premises for 12 months and Crupi was banned for three months.
The private manager’s room was the only one in the venue not monitored by CCTV and police said the room had been cleaned up before paramedics arrived.
A pathology report found Ms Tierney had traces of MDMA, cocaine and heroin in her system.
Mr Mesfun and Joseph Berhe had been found in the same room as Miss Tierney and were quizzed by police over the death but were released without charge.
British backpacker Stacey Tierney was found dead inside the Dreams Gentlemen’s Club (pictured) on December 19, 2016
A coronial inquest in Stockport in the UK in 2018 was told Miss Tierney had moved to Victoria after her boyfriend got an engineering job.
She travelled around Australia and when her study visa was accepted in November 2016 she started working at Dreams Gentleman’s Club.
The inquest heard that she had told friends she ‘didn’t like’ working at the club but she was trying to save up to fund her studies and ‘the money was good’.
Det Supt Estelle Matheson, from Greater Manchester Police, said: ‘It’s almost impossible to ascertain what happened in that room.
Police discovered the office where Miss Tierney (pictured) was found had been ‘cleaned up’ before officers arrived
‘That room was the one place where there was no CCTV footage. Once she disappears into that room she is not seen alive again.
‘The accounts that were given were inconsistent, some aspects were similar, but there were many inconsistencies with the accounts given.’
Stacey’s mother Michelle Frost, of Withington, Manchester, wept as she told the hearing: ‘I don’t think we will ever get the answers we want’
‘They didn’t pick up the phone for an ambulance and I don’t know why.’
Stacey’s stepfather David Frost said: ‘I struggle to reason with why they never answered any follow up questions.
‘It’s hard to believe really. We thought it was basic police work and thought police in different countries worked with each other.
‘We have found it hard not to have the answers to our questions and we have been left baffled.’
Miss Tierney travelled around Australia and when her study visa was accepted in November 2016 she started working at Dreams Gentleman’s Club
MYSTERIOUS EVENTS LEADING TO STACEY TIERNEY’S DEATH IN A STRIP CLUB
Saturday, December 17, 2016:
8.30pm: Miss Tierney begins her shift at the club.
She is seen on CCTV working normally and ‘does not appear to be overly intoxicated’.
Sunday, December 18:
3.41am: After work, in the early hours of the next day Ms Tierny is seen on CCTV going into the management offices for an after party. Six people entered the office and some fall asleep on the floor and couches.
There is no CCTV in the offices, Ms Tierney is not seen outside alive again.
1pm: Another woman, the bar manager Steve Kyriacou and his friend leave, CCTV shows. Ms Tierney remains inside with Mr Berhe and Mr Mesfun.
Ms Tierney was still in the same position on the floor however she was snoring and groaning.
Mr Mesfun and his cousin were still sleeping on couches.
Monday December 19:
5am: Mr Kyriacou checks his phone and sees texts and phone calls from Mr Mesfun indicating an increasing level of concern about Ms Tierney’s condition.
One text read: ‘This chick’s passed out and I can’t leave her. She’s scaring me.’
A second message read: ‘I don’t know what to do any more.’
He indicated to Mr Mesfun that Ms Tierney should be put into a sitting position and given food but he was unaware whether or not Ms Tierney ate the food offered to her.
10.45am Mr Mesfun’s level of concern about Ms Tierney led to Mr Kyriacou indicating that he would attend the premises himself.
11:45am He arrived and went to the manager’s lounge where Ms Tierney was lying on a couch with a blanket over her and a pillow under her head. She appeared to be dead.
He called 000 and an ambulance arrived at the venue shortly thereafter and pronounced her deceased. A pathology report would later reveal a cocktail of drugs in her system caused her death.
Despite police investigations and a subsequent inquiry Ms Tierney’s parents have been unable to get a straight answer on why an ambulance was not called sooner.