National News

Ex-Block star not guilty of extortion

The Penthouse covergirl who renovated her way to TV celebrity before becoming an escort has been found not guilty of extorting money from a sex client.

Taylor and co-accused "enforcer" Ali Ebrahimi have been cleared on extortion charges, deprivation of liberty, fraud and assault for attacking the man at an apartment in an inner-city Brisbane suburb in the early hours of October 30, 2019.

The Block star could not hold back tears as the decision was handed down.

After four days of evidence and the sacking of Ebrahimi's legal team, the jury struggled for more than 10 hours before finally reaching a verdict on Thursday afternoon.

They twice sought direction from Judge Suzanne Sheridan before handing down their decision on Thursday afternoon.

The jury rejected key testimony from "victim" David Butler, who admitted on the stand that he had lied to police and the court.

Outside the court, Taylor's lawyer Michael Gatenby was highly critical of the number of charges levelled against Taylor, questioning if her celebrity status was a factor.

"This has been a horrendous part of her life," he said.

"Clearly, she was overcharged. I think it is absolutely disgraceful that this woman has been locked up for something as spurious as this outrageous complaint by the complainant."

The Brisbane District Court jury heard the former Block contestant posed as an escort called Katie on the raunchy website Scarlet Blue when she agreed to meet Mr Butler.

The pair agreed to a sum of $250 for half an hour of Katie's time, and the hospitality worker texted Katie directly, urging her to "dress sexy", preferably in something tight and black with high heels.

He arrived at the New Farm apartment armed with a bottle of champagne and red wine.

The couple relaxed over drinks, but when the 30 minutes became an hour, then two, Taylor started getting text messages from Ebrahimi saying: "Get paid if you haven't".

Mr Butler claimed Taylor invited him into her bedroom, kissed him and took off her shirt before saying: "If you want this to continue and go any further, you have to give me some money".

The night ended with Mr Butler claiming he had tied up and held against his will, and Ebrahimi, 24, acting as an enforcer, the prosecution alleged.

Ebrahimi stormed into the bedroom, grabbed Mr Butler by the throat before punching and kicking him, he claimed.

Mr Butler's hands were fastened tightly behind his back, and he claimed to have been repeatedly assaulted by Taylor and Ebrahimi over several hours.

In key testimony, Mr Butler admitted lying to police and the court, claiming he didn't know Taylor was an escort, deleting messages and claiming he and the Block star had been chatting for weeks over a dating site.

The prosecution conceded Mr Butler was "simply unwilling to be upfront and forthcoming that he went to pay for an escort service" because he was embarrassed and ashamed.

The verdict is the latest scandal to plague the bubbly contestant for the 2015 season of The Block.

Since winning almost $350,000 with partner Yvonne Cosier on season 11 of the reality show, Taylor has been embroiled in scandal and arrest.

Taylor pleaded guilty to fraud and theft charges in May 2019 after being caught using a credit card stolen from a patient recovering at a Brisbane hospital to buy alcohol.

She also still has matters before the courts after being repeatedly arrested for breaching strict bail conditions _ charges Mr Gatenby labelled excessive.

"I think it was gross overkill to charge her with in excess of 100 breaches - it is something I haven't seen in 20 years of professional life, and I very much hope not to see again."

© AAP 2021