The former boss of Australia’s most famous brothel had official AFP and NSW Police uniforms in his bedroom because he wanted to “open a museum one day”, a court has heard.
Peter Lazaris, the former owner of infamous Surry Hills brothel A Touch of Class, faced Downing Centre Local Court on Monday after police searched his home in November 2022 as part of a drug investigation.
During the search, police found an array of genuine police uniforms and items, which is illegal and punishable with a maximum two-year jail sentence. A number of high-quality imitation items were also seized.
He was arrested and charged over the items, as well as supply and possession of prohibited drugs.
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On Monday, police footage of the search was played for the court and showed Mr Lazaris’ bedroom in disarray as officers rummaged through his drawers.
One officer showed police shirts to the camera as he pulled them out of Mr Lazaris’ cupboard.
Another officer could be seen seizing a number of the items from the top drawer of Mr Lazaris’ bedside cupboard.
At one point during the footage, police seized an AFP ID titled “Counter Terrorism Police” with Mr Lazaris’ name printed on it. The ID also featured a photo of Mr Lazaris wearing sunglasses.
The court heard AFP and NSW Police badges, hats, shirts and jackets were seized alongside NYPD and California police items.
The court heard Mr Lazaris bought a number of the items on eBay.
Mr Lazaris’s lawyer Marina Kiriakos explained her client had spoken to the buyer on eBay about his desire to “open a museum one day” and was a keen collector.
Mr Lazaris also used some of the items while he appeared as an extra on the Australian sitcom Queen of Oz, the court heard.
The police prosecutor told the court Mr Lazaris did not have a license to own the uniforms.
Mr Lazaris did not wish to make a statement outside court. His case will return on September 23.
Mr Lazaris owned A Touch of Class in the early 2000s and was in charge of the brothel when it was shut down in 2008.
At the time, Mr Lazaris blamed “competition from a rapidly proliferating number of cheaper establishments” for the brothel’s closure.
A Touch of Class first opened in 1972 and became a landmark of Sydney due to its high-profile clientele.
The brothel was featured in 2006 Australian film Candy which starred Heath Ledger.
Mr Lazaris has been charged with use of the uniforms to which has pleaded not guilty.
Evidence in relation to this charge was part heard on Monday and will continue on September. He will also be sentenced for the drug charges – two counts of drug supply and one of drug possession – on September 24.