The dream is over: Stuart MacGill and Maria O’Meagher’s restaurant has been shut down
The Greek restaurant run by Test cricketer Stuart MacGill and his long-term girlfriend has been shut down.
The front doors of the couple’s popular restaurant, Aristotle’s in Neutral Bay, in Sydney’s north, have been chained up, with a sign in the window saying the landlord has seized the premises.
It’s the latest blow for MacGill and Maria O’Meagher, whose lives were plunged into chaos after the cricketer was allegedly kidnapped from a nearby street in April over a drug dispute.
Ms O’Meagher told Daily Mail Australia that the couple had been under a lot of stress, but said the closure was also the result of a rent hike and poor business conditions.
‘We, with a heavy heart, wish to advise the closure of Aristotle’s Neutral Bay,’ Ms O’Meagher told Daily Mail Australia on Thursday afternoon.
‘For the past several weeks we have been in negotiations with the landlord seeking rent relief as a consequence of the ongoing pandemic which has tragically affected our business.’
Grim scene: The restaurant was chained up with a sign from the landlord saying the premises had been seized
A sign pasted to the restaurant’s front door said it had been repossessed
However, Ms O’Meagher said the business has had no success in keeping the rent down, ‘so our only action being to close the doors effective immediately.
‘Additionally, as you would be aware we and our families have been under a great deal of personal stress with what has happened to Stuart.’
Ms O’Meagher added: ‘We are actually looking forward to lots of rest and recovery.’
The restaurant had continued to operate for weeks after police arrested four people, including Ms O’Meagher’s brother Marino Sotiropoulos, over MacGill’s alleged kidnapping.
The mystery drug dealer at the centre of the Stuart MacGill kidnapping saga used to give the cricketing great Christmas presents and buy his girlfriend flowers.
MacGill had known ‘Sonny’ for three or four years, had his number stored in his phone and considered him a friend – but never learnt his full name.
He has told police that Sonny was 34 years old, 188cm (6′ 2′) tall, heavily built, of Lebanese appearance with little hair, a beard and an Australian accent.
He thought Sonny was from Mosman or Kirribilli on Sydney’s lower north shore, or Granville in the city’s west, and said he drove a white Camry with an Uber sticker.
But the 50-year-old has been unable to lead police to the same man who they believe executed a $660,000 cocaine rip-off which allegedly led to the retired spin bowler’s kidnapping.
The mystery drug dealer at the centre of the Stuart MacGill kidnapping saga used to give the cricketing great Christmas presents. MacGill (pictured) had known ‘Sonny’ for three or four years and considered him a friend but never learnt his full name
MacGill owns Aristotle’s Greek restaurant at Neutral Bay with his partner Maria O’Meagher (pictured) and that is where he first met Sonny. The mystery drug dealer used to buy Ms O’Meagher flowers. There is no suggestion McGill or Ms O’Meagher have done anything wrong
Ms O’Meagher’s younger brother Marino Sotiropoulos, 46, regularly frequented Aristotle’s but MacGill did not like him. ‘I kicked him out about three years ago as he would talk about how hard he was, pumping his chest and about he was a drug dealer,’ MacGill told police
A lawyer for one of the men charged over the alleged kidnapping has suggested there were inconsistencies in the version of events MacGill gave to police.
‘One starts to wonder whether Mr MacGill is a reliable witness,’ solicitor Greg Goold told Sutherland Local Court on Wednesday.
‘One wonders, Your Honour, whether there was indeed a kidnapping.’
MacGill owns Aristotle’s Greek restaurant at Neutral Bay with his partner Maria O’Meagher and that is where he first met ‘Zack’, who most people called Sonny.
‘I initially met him when he came in making inquiries about buying a restaurant,’ MacGill told police in a statement tendered in court.
‘I’ve known Sonny for about three to four years, he’s friends with some of my friends. He would even give me Christmas presents and buy Maria flowers.
‘Sonny was also a drug dealer and had said on occasion, ‘There’ll never be any problems when I’m around’.’
MacGill said he never had anything to do with Sonny’s drug dealing and could no longer find him.
‘I considered Sonny a friend but I didn’t know his surname,’ he said in his police statement.
MacGill, who has two teenage children with ex-wife Rachel Friend, has been in a de factor relationship with Ms O’Meagher for five years but the couple does not live together. The couple is pictured at Aristotle’s
MacGill told police he introduced Sotiropoulos and Sonny about lunchtime on April 6 or 7 out the front of Aristotle’s (pictured). ‘I said, ‘Marino – Sonny. Sonny – Marino’ and I left. I literally introduced them to each other and I left and went into the restaurant to start work’
MacGill, who has two teenage children with ex-wife Rachel Friend, has been in a de factor relationship with Ms O’Meagher for five years, but the couple does not live together.
Neither MacGill nor Ms O’Meagher have been charged with an offence and it is not suggested they did anything wrong.
How 44-Test veteran McGill came to be embroiled in a 2kg cocaine deal gone wrong is outlined in his statement and police documents tendered in court.
Like Sonny, Ms O’Meagher’s younger brother Marino Sotiropoulos, 46, also regularly frequented Aristotle’s but MacGill did not like him.
‘I kicked him out about three years ago as he would talk about how hard he was, pumping his chest and about how he was a drug dealer,’ MacGill told police in his statement.
‘He would say things like, ‘If you ever have any trouble come see me and I’ll sort it out’.
‘In the last six months I was trying to be nice, so I started to let him come back to the restaurant. It makes it easier if I get along with Maria’s family.’
Police allege MacGill was bundled into a car by Richard Schaaf, 29, (pictured) and his brother Frederick Schaaf, 27, on the streets of Sydney’s lower north shore
MacGill was allegedly kidnapped near his Cremorne home and driven about 60km to Bringelly before being released in Burwood Road, Belmore after a four-hour ordeal on April 14
MacGill would eventually introduce Sonny to Sotiropoulos, which led to him allegedly being kidnapped at gunpoint and threatened with bolt cutters.
‘I knew they both liked to get up to no good, but neither of them ever did anything like that in the restaurant,’ MacGill told police. ‘They never asked me for money for protection or anything like that.
‘Sonny and Marino wanted to meet each other, to be honest I don’t know how they knew of each other, but they wanted to meet so I arranged for them to meet.
‘I thought if I introduced them to each other they would both get off my back. I thought it was just two like-minded people meeting.’
MacGill told police he introduced Sotiropoulos and Sonny about lunchtime on April 6 or 7 out the front of the restaurant.
‘I said, ‘Marino – Sonny. Sonny – Marino’ and I left. I literally introduced them to each other and I left and went into the restaurant to start work.
‘I have no idea what happened after that and to be honest I didn’t care. It wasn’t my intention to be involved at any level in whatever they were up to. I just wanted them both to leave me alone.’
Four men were arrested and charged after Stuart MacGill was allegedly kidnapped at gunpoint
Richard Schaaf (pictured) and his brother Frederick are charged with participating in a criminal group and kidnapping with assault causing actual bodily harm
Police allege shortly after the restaurant meeting Sotiropoulos agreed to sell 2kg of cocaine worth $660,000 to Sonny, sourced through an unnamed supplier.
A week later, on April 14, MacGill woke about midday to several frantic missed calls and text messages from Ms O’Meagher and Sotiropoulos.
The messages allegedly said ‘Call me, matter of life and death’ and ‘call me, call me’.
Sotiropoulos then arrived at MacGill’s door and allegedly told him, ‘Your mate has stolen money – $660,000’.
MacGill, who did not let Sotiropoulos inside his home, allegedly replied: ‘ Mate, I don’t give a f***, it’s got nothing to do with me, f*** off’.
Sotiropoulos allegedly said: ‘You don’t understand, these are bad dudes. Mate, it’s all over for you, you’re f**king dead.’
That alleged threat prompted MacGill to try to contact his friend, the elusive Sonny.
MacGill (pictured, sitting in the back seat)was driven away from his home at Cremorne to give a statement after four men were arrested in relation to his alleged kidnapping on May 5
Richard Schaaf, his brother Frederick Schaaf, Marino Sotiropoulos and Son Minh Nguyen were arrested in coordinated raids on May 5
‘After Marino came to my house I tried to call Sonny twice and I text him six or seven times,’ MacGill told police in his statement.
‘I text him, ‘Mate, is there anything you need to talk about, please sort it out, mate help. They’re talking about killing me… I thought we were friends’.’
MacGill told police he never heard back from Sonny.
‘I was scared and was trying to figure out a sneaky way of how to get out of the apartment building but I couldn’t so I went and hid on the roof, in my car downstairs and in the gym in the toilet,’ he told police.
‘When I was on the roof I think I messaged Marino and said, ‘What did he steal, did he steal paper or product’. Marino said, ‘It doesn’t f***ing matter’.’
About 4.30pm Sotiropoulos texted MacGill and the pair met in the foyer of his building. There, Sotiropoulos introduced MacGill to an Asian man police say was 42-year-old Son Minh Nguyen.
‘The Asian guy said, ‘There’s a problem’,’ MacGill told police. ‘I said, ‘It’s got nothing to do with me’. He said, ‘Well you introduced them so it does have something to do with you’.’
Nguyen then allegedly told MacGill he needed to pay $90,000 by lunchtime the next day, or lead Sotiropoulos to Sonny.
‘[Sotiropoulos] said ‘He didn’t give us real money, he got two kilos of cocaine and didn’t pay for it’,’ MacGill told police.
‘I don’t think I really responded to that. I thought I would just find Sonny as he was always nice and polite to me so I thought if I knew where he was I would just tell them.’
MacGill said Sotiropoulos sat in an Audi while he returned to his apartment. He then went down to the garage where he ran into a neighbour who was an Uber driver.
‘I said to him, ‘This is going to sound really stupid, I’m going to jump in your car and lay on the floor, there’s a a guy outside who thinks I’ve slept with his wife’,’ MacGill told police.
The neighbour took MacGill to a friend’s house two blocks away where he received more texts from Sotiropoulos and Ms O’Meagher but he did not read them properly.
As MacGill walked near his home (pictured) on April 14 he encountered Sitoropoulos, who took his phone and allegedly said, ‘The big guys are here to see you’. MacGill told police a ‘big Islander guy’ got out of a parked vehicle and told him, ‘Get in the car’
‘Most of the time I don’t really read text messages or answer my phone,’ MacGill told police. ‘I just like to keep to myself and don’t really like talking to people.’
As MacGill walked back to his home about 7.30pm he encountered Sitoropoulos, who took his phone and allegedly said, ‘The big guys are here to see you’.
MacGill told police a ‘big Islander guy’ got out of a parked vehicle and told him, ‘Get in the car’.
‘I said, ‘I’m not getting in the car’. ‘He said, ‘I don’t want to hurt you, we know you had nothing to do with it, we just want to talk to you, get in the car.’
MacGill allegedly got into a Honda with two men police say were Richard Schaaf, 29, and his brother Frederick Schaaf, 27.
One of the men, who MacGill estimated weighed 140-150kg and called ‘the big guy’, said, ‘We’ve got a problem’.
‘He said, ‘Where’s Sonny?’,’ MacGill told police. ‘I said, ‘I don’t know. I’ve been trying to find him all day. I’ve been trying to call everyone who knows him’.’
MacGill said he was driven about 60km to an abandoned house (pictured) at Bringelly where the two men were joined by a third wearing a balaclava and carrying a pair of bolt cutters. Inside the house MacGill was allegedly forced to strip naked and repeatedly assaulted
MacGill told one of his alleged kidnappers he did not know how to find Sonny. ‘He said, ‘Well OK, well I believe you but now you’re gonna have to get slapped a bit more before we can let you go,’ MacGill told police. The house where he was allegedly held is pictured
MacGill said he was driven about 60km to an abandoned house at Bringelly where the two men were joined by a third wearing a balaclava and carrying a pair of bolt cutters.
Inside the house MacGill was allegedly forced to strip naked and repeatedly assaulted.
The gang allegedly demanded he pay $90,000 or provide Sonny’s whereabouts and threatened to cut off his fingers with the bolt cutters.
MacGill insisted to the ‘big guy’ he did not know how to find Sonny. ‘He said, ‘Well OK, well I believe you but now you’re gonna have to get slapped a bit more before we can let you go,’ MacGill told police.
Eventually, MacGill claims he was dropped at Bankstown train station, where he got in a cab and was driven home.
MacGill then hid out at various motels for five nights before reporting his ordeal to police on April 20.
Detecives then commenced an undercover operation when MacGill went to police on April 20. Officers pretending to act on MacGill’s behalf met with Sotiropoulos and Nguyen to discuss his predicament. Police arrested Sotiropoulos, Nguyen and the Schaaf brothers on May 5
Detecives then commenced an undercover operation and officers pretending to act on MacGill’s behalf met with Sotiropoulos and Nguyen to discuss his predicament.
Police arrested Sotiropoulos, Nguyen and the Schaaf brothers on May 5.
Sotiropoulos was charged with kidnapping occasioning actual bodily harm, participating in a criminal group and supplying a large commercial quantity of a prohibited drug.
The Schaaf brothers were charged with participating in a criminal group and kidnapping with assault causing actual bodily harm.
Nguyen was charged with knowingly directing the activities of a criminal group and being an accessory after the fact to the alleged kidnapping and assault.
Mr Goold, for Nguyen, said it was ‘somewhat suspect’ that Sotiropoulos had allegedly supplied 2kg of cocaine on credit to a man he had only just met.
He also said MacGill was seemingly familiar with ‘a lot of industry terms’ when describing the alleged drug deal in his statement.
Mr Goold has described the case against his client as ‘palpably weak’ and ‘a dog’s breakfast’. Police prosecutor Sergeant George Lolis said the case was strong.
Sotoripoulos and the Schaaf brothers will next appear at Manly Local Court on May 26. Nguyen will face the same court on June 30.
The four men accused of involvement in MacGill’s kidnapping are before courts. MacGill is pictured at the Gabba in Brisbane ahead of a Test against Sri Lanka in November 2007