A troubled young multi-millionaire has been issued a stern warning by a Magistrate after a court heard his life “spiralled out of control” due to drug use.
Andrew Spira beamed into Waverley Local Court via audiovisual link on Wednesday after pleading guilty to breaching conditions of a restraining order taken out by police to protect his ex-girlfriend.
The 24-year-old had been in a relationship with the woman, who is 16 years his senior, for more than six years when they split in December last year.
The court was told the couple owned an impressive property portfolio together, and records show one of their homes in Sydney’s eastern suburbs recently sold for $10m.
A few months after the break-up, court documents reveal police took out an apprehended violence order to protect Spira’s ex-partner after he was charged with assaulting her.
The 24-year-old has pleaded not guilty to the charge of common assault and will fight that charge in court next year.
Under the conditions of the restraining order, he was prohibited from contacting his former partner except through a lawyer.
Despite the ban, Spira admitted to calling her on multiple occasions over two months and even messaging her housemate in a bid to let her know he missed her.
One of the phone calls between the former couple, which was overheard by a witness, lasted for an hour and a half.
When the woman reminded Spira he would “get in trouble” for contacting her, he admitted he knew the conditions of the order.
Spira told a psychologist he was “feeling low” and not considering the consequences of breaching the restraining order when he made contact with his ex-partner.
His lawyer Najee Makhoul said Spira had difficulty accepting the break-up because his former partner was the first person with whom he had formed an attachment.
The court heard the couple started dating when Spira was 17 years old.
Mr Makhoul said his client had endured “deprivation and neglect” while living with his alcoholic mother and her partners.
Spira’s mother is Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Buttrose, a former Sydney socialite and the niece of media mogul Ita Buttrose.
By the time he was in his 20s, Spira reported taking 40 tablets a day of a prescription sedative in addition to drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine, and cannabis.
The court heard he had completed multiple stints in rehabilitation centres after his life “spiralled out of control” due to drug abuse.
Magistrate Ross Hudson said Spira explained to psychologists that he used drugs as a “means of escape”.
He said the 24-year-old reported not having any close relationships during his formative years.
“(His former partner) was effectively one of his most important relationships that he formed in that period of his life,” he said.
“Because of the support and because of the light he saw (her) in, he found it hard to cut ties with her.”
The magistrate acknowledged Spira had been diagnosed with complex post traumatic stress disorder.
Despite his struggles, the court heard Spira was the founder of successful business loan company Pineapple Funding, which had been making $4 million a year before he was arrested.
Magistrate Hudson took into account the entrepreneur’s “powerful subjective case” when he convicted him of two counts of contravening an AVO and one breach of a conditional release order related to a previous AVO breach.
Spira was sentenced to serve two good behaviour bonds of 12 and 15 months respectively, and ordered to continue treatment for his mental health and drug and alcohol abuse.
Magistrate Hudson warned him not to contact his ex-partner again and said the court “won’t be toothless” if it sees another breach.
Although Spira maintained a blank face throughout the sentencing, his primary lawyer, Samir Karnib, told NCA NewsWire he was relieved.
“He’s grateful for today’s outcome and that these matters are now behind him,” he said.
“He’s continuing to improve himself and other aspects of his life. He’s now determined to keep going and move past it.”