One of Australia’s leading restauranteurs has written a gushing reference for a MasterChef finalist jailed for 24 years over the sexual abuse of 11 children he coached at a swimming school.
John Fink, who owns the award-winning Quay, Bennelong and Otto restaurants on Sydney Harbour, penned a glowing 1,141-word tribute to paedophile Paul Douglas Frost ahead of his sentencing.
Mr Fink even offered to speak on the telephone to NSW District Court judge Sarah Huggett to endorse the character of a man he described as a ‘beacon of family morality’.
Frost, whose youngest victim was nine or ten, was convicted of 43 counts of sexual abuse against 10 boys and one girl over 13 years in the 1990s and 2000s.
After repeatedly assaulting one boy then aged 12 or 13, Frost drove him home and said, ‘You know we can’t tell anyone this this, we’ll both get into trouble’.
One of Australia’s leading restauranteurs has written a gushing reference for MasterChef finalist Paul Douglas Frost (above) who was jailed for 24 years for sexually assaulting 11 children he coached at a swimming school
The 48-year-old, who received a maximum prison term of 32 years on Thursday, continues to maintain his innocence and has never expressed any remorse or contrition.
Mr Fink began his reference by listing his family’s business interests which also include partnerships in Beach restaurant in Byron Bay and Firedoor and Gilda’s in Surry Hills.
The 57-year-old father-of-three wrote that he had known Frost for more than a decade and the pair had ‘a strong and instant friendship cherished and forged from our first meeting’.
‘I am extremely proud to call him a friend, and I have absolutely no hesitation whatsoever in writing this character reference for your consideration,’ he wrote.
‘I understand Paul has been charged and found guilty under court of law to sexual offences, and I well understand the seriousness of the convictions.’
John Fink, who owns the award-winning Quay, Bennelong and Otto restaurants on Sydney Harbour, penned an 1,100-word tribute to paedophile Paul Douglas Frost ahead of his sentencing.
Mr Fink is an owner and director of FRG Pty Ltd which operates fine dining restaurants in Sydney, Byron Bay and Brisbane. Bennelong in the Sydney Opera House is pictured
Judge Huggett said Frost, who worked as a primary school teacher before his arrest, was sexually attracted to pubescent children and his offending was marked by its ‘escalating gravity and brazenness’.
‘He moved from one victim to the next as and when he so desired,’ she said.
‘Each of the victims have suffered and will unfortunately continue to suffer as a result of the offending.’
Mr Fink, who has sons aged 28 and five and a 26-year-old daughter, wrote that he had taken regular holidays with Frost – a father-of-two – and their respective families.
‘In the last decade and more, I have looked to Paul as a beacon of family morality,’ he wrote.
‘His day-to-day living examples of parental excellence have been a leading light for me as a parent.
‘I know and respect Paul to be a hard-working member of society with an underpinning dedication to contributing to the wider good.
John Fink wrote of Paul Douglas Frost: ‘I am extremely proud to call him a friend, and I have absolutely no hesitation whatsoever in writing this character reference for your consideration’
‘Moreso, I know Paul to be a most dutiful man devoted to his family; an excellent father, and a faithful, loving husband to his wife.’
Judge Huggett said on Thursday that Frost’s wife Ivana, from whom he was divorced in 2021 or 2022, now lived in Sweden but she and the former couple’s teenage children ‘remain supportive’.
Mr Fink wrote his holidays with Frost ‘have been in close quarters, on beaches, in private pools and other venues where families gather’.
‘I have not once witnessed any behaviours from Paul that would ever give rise to suspicion of inappropriate or criminal behaviour,’ he wrote. ‘Quite the opposite.
‘I have only seen Paul be a champion and protector of young people and children of all ages. I have never felt unease leaving my children in his care, and my children only recall fond memories of our times together.’
Most of Frost’s offending occurred at his swimming school in Sydney’s south-west, inside the change rooms, in the kickboard room, in the pool and on the pool deck.
Some of his victims had told the court of Frost encouraging children to talk about sex and masturbation, which led to him touching them and them touching him.
Frost was arrested in September 2019 at his Sylvania home in Sydney’s south (above). When told of the allegations against him he dropped to the ground and told police: ‘That’s disgusting’
Judge Huggett described Frost’s crimes – which occurred when he was in his early 20s to mid 30s and some of which involved penetration – as ‘opportunistic, impulsive and spontaneous’.
Frost, who was arrested in September 2019, had shown no apparent concern about his depravity being uncovered in the preceding decade.
Mr Fink wrote: ‘I have no reason to suspect him of any misbehaviour with any of three children – or any other children for that matter.’
‘If you were to ask me directly if Paul Frost was a danger to young people, or society in any way, I would not hesitate at all to say that he is not a menace or danger to young people, or to society, or in any other way imaginable.
‘In the framework of legal, societal and moral understanding I find Paul Frost to be an outstanding citizen and member of the wider Australian society.
‘I publicly and privately stand to his defence. Paul Frost is a hard working, good and honest man.
‘He is a man I would trust more than any other. A man with a good heart. I man with good intentions for himself, for his family and friends, and for the world around him.’
Frost, who was a finalist on MasterChef Australia in 2009, is pictured with judge Gary Mehigan
Several of the children Frost abused made victim impact statements detailing the damage he had done to them.
‘I feel sick to my stomach when I think about what I did, you watching me and the fact you took advantage of me and the way I let you influence me into becoming someone I’m not,’ one male victim said.
‘The crimes you committed are the worst kind and you were the worst kind of predator.’
Mr Fink said the paedophile being sentenced for violating children and the Paul Frost he knew ‘are two completely separate people’.
‘I most certainly know the latter Paul Frost, and can most definitely with complete clear-eyed honesty attest to the wellbeing and goodness of his manner and character in all aspects,’ he wrote.
‘In short: I instantly knew he was a good and solid family man who I could trust, and in many ways, look up to for friendly peer advice on family matters. He has never let me down.’
Mr Fink, who is living in France, closed his reference with an offer to speak with Judge Huggett on the phone about Frost because he could not appear in person.
‘I will keep my phone on “ring” bedside at the time of Paul’s appearance in court, and I would be more than happy to make myself available to you in your timezone, at your convenience.’
Frost’s mother Lola and a female friend of more than 40 years also wrote references.
Michaela Carre, who worked with Frost at the swim school, wrote of her former colleague: ‘He is a gentle, non-confrontational person who likes to ensure that his environment is safe and comfortable’.
Frost believed for most of his life his father was Ian Thorpe’s swimming coach Doug Frost (above)
The court heard Frost had grown up believing he was the son of famed swimming coach Doug Frost who guided Ian Thorpe to three of his five Olympic gold medals.
He learnt only when he was 40 his real biological father was a man he had considered a family friend.
Judge Huggett said Frost had never acknowledged his crimes and placed no weight on his character references.
‘The offender continues to assert his innocence in relation to all 43 offences,’ Judge Huggett said.
‘There is no evidence that would permit me to find on balance that he is contrite or remorseful. Frost was found guilty in June of 12 counts of sexual intercourse with a child aged 10 to 16 under his authority, 16 of aggravated indecency with a child under 16, and nine of inciting an aggravated act of indecency with a child under 16.
He was also convicted of one count of sexual intercourse with a child aged 10 to 16, two of sexual intercourse with a child aged 16 to 17 under special care and one of aggravated indecent assault of a child under 16.
Each of those offences attracts a maximum penalty of between five and ten years in prison. Two further counts of grooming a child for unlawful sexual activity have a maximum penalty of 12 years.
Frost’s earliest possible release date is June 3, 2047.