The Big Read: Gable Tostee - the untold story of a reclusive playboy

By Kate Kyriacou of the Courier Mail

In a much publicised trial, Gold Coast man Gable Tostee was found not guilty yesterday of murdering Kiwi Warriena Wright after she fell from his Surfer's Paradise apartment in 2014. Kate Kyriacou looks into Tostee’s life before he met Wright.

The banging was coming from above them, around the living area where they sat on their laptops.

Emily Ellis and Nick Ryan had been on their computers for hours, sitting on the lounge near the balcony doors, where outside waves crashed in the dark along the famous Surfers Paradise coastline.

"We've been up too long," Emily said to Nick. On the other side of the 12th floor unit, her boyfriend Ryan Martin was playing his PlayStation. She looked at the time. A little after 2am.

She'd thought the scuffling was coming from the unit upstairs. Later they would realise the noises were carrying down two floors, loud enough to wake half the building.

"Did you hear that?" Emily asked. Nick didn't reply. Scuffling had turned to banging now, almost as though a heavy piece of furniture had fallen on to the floor.

She jumped up and walked out on to their ocean-view balcony. The others followed.

Upstairs, on level 13, Austrian woman Gabriele Collyer-Wiedner woke to the same crashing noises.

Then the screaming started. It was a woman. She shouted "No!", then shouted it again.

Gabriele sat up. "No!" the woman was screaming now. Terrified, guttural shrieks. "No, no, no!"

She got out of bed, walked through her unit and out on to her balcony.

A male voice was shouting something but she couldn't make out the words.

READ MORE
Gable Tostee not guilty of murdering Kiwi Tinder date
What the jury didn't know
Full transcript of fateful date
Gable Tostee's secret life and chequered past revealed
The Big Read: Tinder and tragedy - the death of Warriena Wright
'Worst date ever': Woman recalls Tinder meeting with Gable Tostee
What really went on in the Gable Tostee jury room for four days
Sister of Warriena Wright: "I've lost my best friend"
Rachel Smalley: No doubt Tostee was the perpetrator of Wright's fear
Phil Vine: Tostee a cartoonish villain easy to hate

When Gable Tostee was just 17, he masterminded a business plan that would prove more than fruitful for a kid living at home with his parents.

It was a fake ID racket, designed to take advantage of the Gold Coast's Schoolies Week.

Tostee, the brains of the operation, recruited a trusted schoolmate to bring in the clientele.

The mate would bring Tostee $60 and a passport photo. Tostee would hand over a product detailed with the close eye of a perfectionist.

His work was guaranteed - any card confiscated by a suspicious security guard would be replaced free of charge.

Together they'd produce hundreds of the cards over more than a year before Tostee began souring on the scam. It was too much work, too much stress. He sold out to his mate and a third school friend for $300 apiece.

Only a few months went by before the operation was brought undone.

Police raided the trio in late 2004. By then, the business had brought in $30,000 for the young entrepreneurs.

But a check of Tostee's computer would reveal something even more interesting - a perfect reproduction of a $50 note. It was so good that Australian Federal Police officers were amazed by its quality.

It took two years for the matter to reach court. Tostee, labelled the "mastermind" by the Crown prosecutor, was said to be "partially autistic" with exceptional skills in art and drafting. He was also said to be suffering from severe obsessive compulsive disorder.

The case made the front page of the Gold Coast Bulletin in June 2006 after Tostee and his two mates pleaded guilty to forgery.

The publicity had an enormous impact on a 20-year-old Tostee. He devised a plan to keep his face from the pages of the paper at his sentencing hearing a week later. Taking an Esky with him into court, Tostee hid inside the building for hours, finally emerging with a hoodie over his head.

The judge put Tostee and his mates on probation with no conviction recorded. Tostee was ordered to undertake 200 hours of community service.

"He has extraordinary talents that must be harnessed in such a manner to ensure the products of his abilities are not illicit," Judge John Newton said.

But the warning fell on deaf ears. He would focus his skills somewhere else - women.

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In January 2010, a user named G T wrote a lengthy, heartfelt post on a body building forum asking for advice on how to make friends.

Describing himself as a 190cm, 90kg Australian, G T had been posting on the popular forum since July 2004.

"I'm in a bit of a strange situation," he wrote.

"About five years ago, some s*** went down (I won't go into it) and I had to cut off contact with literally all my friends and basically disappear, many of them were involved."

He'd always been shy, Tostee wrote. He'd been working for his dad. He hadn't studied at university, he played no sports. He lived as a virtual hermit.

"Said s*** that happened has sort of blown over now, but I never really re-established contact with anyone I used to know, until the other week when I bumped into an old best mate at a restaurant," Tostee wrote.

"When I asked him what other friends were up to I realised how much I have missed out on socially over the last half a decade."

The problem was, he explained, that he didn't know where to start. How should he go about making friends? Should he set up a Facebook page? Should he track down his old schoolmates?

The advice from fellow forum users varied in its sarcasm and usefulness. Tostee replied to nearly everything, giving considered answers.

He explained he'd been out with the friend on a couple of occasions and had even headed into Surfers Paradise alone while "s***faced" where he'd tried to strike up conversations with strangers.

"It's difficult to make actual friends without knowing people already, since I eventually have to reveal the fact that I'm a hermit," he wrote.

The following day, he provided an update - he'd set up a Facebook page. How long did people usually take to respond to friend requests?

"This is pretty daunting," he wrote. "I feel as though I have been pushed aside or can't relate, even sort of with my old best mates."

A few days later he was back with a new dilemma.

He'd been out with his friend from school again. They'd started chatting to a couple of girls. There'd been dancing, kissing and exchanging of numbers. Tostee, of course, had had virtually no interaction with women in years.

"Mine seemed pretty into me, wanted to meet again, hugged her goodbye outside and said I'd call her. They were on holidays and are leaving today," he wrote.

"I called earlier but it was an answering machine so I texted her and haven't had a reply. Should I call again, perhaps off a private number?"

No, a fellow forum user advised. She got your message. It's up to her to respond.

"Well I'll never see her again in a few hours no matter what I do. Last night I got the idea I'd be able to close the deal," he wrote.

Then: "Do you think it's possible to close the deal in the same night with ANY girl if you're good enough?"

Tostee never saw her again. But he used the opportunity to ask for more advice on what to do, what to say.

A week later, he tried again.

"On Friday I met this chick who was here on holidays. Started talking to her at the bar, danced, kissed and kept in mind at this point to be more aggressive," he wrote.

"I can't remember exactly what I said but I was much more direct. Ended up rooting her in the back of my car ... then taking her back to my place to root her in bed."

The following night he was out on the town again. He kissed one girl and asked her if she wanted to take it further. She gave him her number and left to find a friend. He got two more numbers before the night was out. He rated one a 6/10 and admitted he couldn't even remember the third.

He called and messaged the first girl but got no reply.

"Not sure what more I could have possibly done though," he lamented. "Maybe bought her more drinks? Would this be unethical?"

The weeks that followed were more of the same. Drinking and dancing. Kissing and exchanging of numbers. Girls would seem interested but they wouldn't follow through when he tried calling and texting.

He met a Brazilian girl and got her back to his place one night but she didn't want to sleep with him. He took her on a date the following night and he thought it went well. But her responses were lukewarm when he tried to contact her again.

"Is it normal to get screwed around like this?" he asked his forum mates.

"In my mind, I just want to get the second one down," he wrote. "So then I'll know it's not a fluke."

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By February, things were getting desperate. Tostee wanted to have sex again but he wasn't having any luck. He approached 20 girls at a club before he convinced one to hand over her number. It came to nothing.

He tried again and he and his mate found two blonde girls to dance with.

"The one I was with had a boyfriend," he wrote. "She was dancing, grinding with me and initially refused to kiss me (although I could tell she wanted to) but with a bit of work I finally got a kiss and her number."

He had taken the Brazilian girl out several times but she was innocent - all kisses and hand holding.

On February 2 she sent him a text saying she did not want to see him again. She couldn't like him if she was returning home in a couple of days. Tostee was unexpectedly hurt.

"I realised something that never even occurred to me," he wrote to his online friends.

"But all the girls I have met and gotten to know over the past few weeks I have actually cared about. I'm still in touch with the girl I banged before even though she is overseas now.

"Regardless of whether I get laid I'm still going to really miss this Brazilian girl and I don't really know what to think. In any case I do not believe in monogamous relationships but I never thought I would give a damn about any of these girls until I realised that I may never see one of them again."

But he was sure about one thing: "None of this will stop me from trying to meet new girls."

Gable Tostee pictured departing the Brisbane Supreme court after being acquitted of murder. Photo / News Corp
Gable Tostee pictured departing the Brisbane Supreme court after being acquitted of murder. Photo / News Corp

Tostee noticed the cute blonde and thought about the best approach. He walked over to her friend, and said "I think your friend is checking me out".

"You should dance with her," the blonde girl's friend told him. So he did. They kissed and he told her to come back to his place, that he'd drop her home in the morning.

"Is this part of your routine?" she asked. It was, but she didn't mind. It had taken three weeks but Tostee had landed his second sexual conquest.

"It was important for me to get the second one out of the way so I knew the first wasn't some kind of fluke," he recounted to the forum boys.

With his newfound confidence, he headed back out.

He tried the same tactic. Dancing, kissing, the invite back to his place, the offer to drop her home in the morning.

It worked - and it had only taken a few minutes. He told the forum boys she'd been hot.

An eight out of 10.

All the girls got a rating. One he rated a 5.5 and described as a "huge mistake". He should have spent his time on a "much hotter girl", he told the forum.

"Anyway, that's the fifth root for the year and the fourth within a week," he wrote. "My mates were amazed and actually asking me for tips. Who would have thought?"

A few days later he was out with mates but they weren't interested in finding girls. Frustrated, Tostee went it alone.

"I saw this hot smallish girl, 8/10 with an amazing body, dancing on her own, surrounded by like five guys," he wrote.

"All I did was give her a glance, then a 'come here' gesture with my hand and I was in. She was great in bed."

Night after night, Tostee and his mate headed into the clubs with a mission to bring home girls. Then, back home, Tostee detailed his successes and failures on the forum.

"There is some great advice in here and thanks for sharing with us your experiences. Keep us updated!" a forum user told him.

Gable Tostee at the Supreme Court in Brisbane. Photo / News Corp
Gable Tostee at the Supreme Court in Brisbane. Photo / News Corp

By the end of his first year as a Gold Coast nightclub lothario, Gable Tostee was ready for public acclaim.

He waited for the last day of the year to post: "Ask a guy who slept with 50 different girls in 2010 anything. Go!"

Other forum users wanted to see what he looked like. Tostee's profile picture - a shirtless torso with sculpted abs - did not show his face.

"Almost every time I go out I have girls coming up to me saying I look like Jacob off Twilight," he wrote.

They asked him what he used as his approach. Was he the same person who had posted a year earlier wanting to know how to pick up women, how to make friends? How did he know there'd been 50 women? Did he keep a notebook?

"I keep a log of names and dates just for my own info," Tostee replied.

"Often I'm just on the dancefloor and I make eye contact with a girl and offer my hand out.

"You have to actually put yourself out there and initiate the interaction, rarely does a girl do this herself. A big factor is obviously to look good too."

It was December and Tostee had just had a two-week slump, which ended with three different girls on three consecutive nights.

"Gotta love Christmas holidays," he said.

When someone asked him how he planned on topping his 2010 efforts, he responded:

"Don't really feel the need to. I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do it after having only ever slept with one girl until I was 23. The plan is to just keep having fun."

The year wore on and Tostee's main ambition continued to be the collecting of sexual conquests. He'd worked for his father's carpet laying business for years but described himself as a property developer and investor.

Home was no longer with his parents. He lived in an apartment just metres from Surfers Paradise nightclubs. It was the perfect bachelor pad.

When he wasn't working and touring Surfers Paradise nightclubs, Tostee spent time watching shows like Californication, Nip/Tuck and Jersey Shore to get ideas on how to talk to women.

"So I wake up...," he wrote in June, "with no memory past midnight, a couple of used condoms and an empty wrapper next to my bed and no trace of any girl except one long hair on the living room couch."

"No text messages, Facebook, phone calls or anything.

"Last thing I remember is dozing off at about 8.30pm and waking up at about 10.30pm then drinking a whole bottle of vodka and 500mg of caffeine.

"I don't even remember going out."

Gable Tostee. Photo / Supplied
Gable Tostee. Photo / Supplied

By 2012, Tostee had developed a reputation with some Gold Coast nightclub workers, who described him as a "serial pest".

He was still keeping a record of the girls he'd slept with and by June, Tostee had reached a new milestone. This one did not seem to arrive with the same sense of achievement as the first.

"Ask a guy who just reached 100 girls slept with and is kinda depressed anything. Go," he wrote.

Forum users wanted to know why he was depressed.

"Don't really feel content," he said. "Hard to explain."

He'd never been in a relationship. Never. And he didn't plan on that changing.

"I've actually kept a written log with dates and names," Tostee said.

"I'm somewhat obsessed with recording everything. I have motion detection cameras in my house, call recording on my phone, and sometimes even leave my phone on record in my pocket for nights out in case I forget what happens."

His 100th girl was asleep in his bed as he replied to questions from forum users.

She was a huge drop in his standards, he explained, but he'd taken her home because she had "huge teddies". And he'd wanted to get the 100th out of the way.

He spoke again of his years as a hermit, his desire to change after keeping to himself for five years.

"This is one of the things that gets me down," he wrote. "I imagined myself being different but I'm not sure I really am. I've always had very low self-esteem.

"Actually," he told one forum user, "you made me realise something pathetic. One of the main reasons I try to sleep with different girls as often as possible is to improve my own confidence."

A couple of weeks later, Tostee started a forum thread that he hoped would bring a bit of a confidence boost.

"Rate my facial aesthetics," he said. He'd never wanted to show his face to the forum, but now he changed his mind. He posted a selfie in a low-necked white t-shirt, his hair swept across his forehead.

Fellow forum users rated him a 4/10 and told him he looked cross-eyed.

Tostee's drunken nights out were starting to get him into trouble.

He'd been spoken to by two officers who spotted him holding a beer bottle on the street but talked his way out of a fine.

A few hours later he was pulled over - driving two girls home from his place - and a breath test revealed he was over the limit.

Tostee had another run-in after giving the finger to a couple of officers, which resulted in a notice for public nuisance and a $1000 fine, with no conviction.

On another occasion, a drunken Tostee had got a lift with a tuk-tuk rider and walked off
without paying. The police found him inside a convenience store trying to buy chocolate bars. They asked him to come outside and he told them to "f--- off".

"What are you going to do small man? F*** off c***," Tostee told one of the officers.

They bundled him into the back of a police car and he used his feet to stop them closing the door. They tried to drag him out, to reposition him, but he lashed out violently, kicking at them.

For his troubles, he got a dose of capsicum spray and charges of public nuisance and obstruct police.

Warriena Wright. Photo / Supplied
Warriena Wright. Photo / Supplied

In April 2013, Tostee found Tinder.

The mobile phone dating app was a little different to websites that promised to help lonely hearts find love.

Tinder helped you find people in your vicinity. It was about a quick judgment of looks. It was about hooking up.

"Is this real?" Tostee asked. "Has anyone met girls off this?"

Soon he was frequenting forum threads about the app, where men posted photographs and screenshots of their Tinder conversations with women and invited fellow users to rate them.

In February, 2014, Tostee posted a screenshot of a conversation he'd had with a girl from Tinder. He was annoyed that she had left abruptly without sleeping with him, that she had accused him of only wanting "one thing".

"No, I like you, I think you're cool and I want to see you again! Believe me!," he wrote when she told him she wasn't interested.

When she didn't reply, he continued, messaging her three times before she replied.

"The only thing I'm faulting you for is repeatedly grabbing at my vagina and putting my hand on your c--- after I said I'm not like that," she said.

He wasn't done. She had led him on, he insisted. Why else had she come to his house if she hadn't wanted to do anything?

His post on the forum brought mixed results. Tostee came off as desperate, insecure.

"You probably shouldn't have expected to get laid on the first date," one wrote.

"Complains that all women are whores. Complains even more when walking into your bedroom isn't a contract for sex," said another.

It was halfway through 2014 and Tinder had, by then, become a regular pastime. Girls would come back to his apartment for drinks and end up in his bed.

In late July, Tostee headed to Byron Bay's Splendour in the Grass music festival with a couple of mates.

Tostee was asleep in his car when his mates woke him. They wanted to head back to Surfers before the 3am lockout.

Tostee was doing 150km/h when police spotted him on the Pacific Highway. They tried pulling him over but he planted his foot, reaching 195km/h.

Police gave chase and road spikes were laid across the highway near the Queensland border. Tostee hit them at high speed and drove until sparks flew from the car's rims. A breath test found he had a blood alcohol reading of 0.2 - four times the legal limit.

This was no disorderly conduct charge. This time Tostee was in serious trouble.

It would be some months before the police pursuit charges would make it to court so Tostee went back to his Surfers Paradise apartment and his Tinder account.

Five days after his arrest, he spotted a quirky brunette who called herself "Cletus Bob".

She was attractive, with big dark eyes and a petite build.

"Hey you sexy slack jawed yokel," he wrote, proving that he too watches The Simpsons.

"Lol Hey. Had a few people (think) that's my real name," Warriena Wright replied.

Tostee considered his approach, and dived right in. "You look delicious. I want to do dirty things to you," he wrote.

She was non-committal.

"That usually work?" she replied.

He wasn't trying to make anything "work", he told her. He was "just saying". The conversation had been going over Tinder for nearly a week when they agreed to meet.

Warriena Wright. Photo / Supplied
Warriena Wright. Photo / Supplied

It was August 7 and Warriena, a 26-year-old bank employee from Wellington, New Zealand, was in Australia for a friend's wedding. She was leaving on Monday.

They met on Cavill Ave, Surfers' famed shopping and entertainment strip, and hugged before moving on to the Surfers Paradise Beer Garden. They didn't stay long.

At a nearby BWS store, Warriena put a six pack of beer on the counter and Tostee handed over his bank card to pay.

It was a short walk back to his place and they caught the lift up to the 14th floor.

Tostee's apartment was modern and masculine. A tray of small, white, decorative rocks sat on a curved glass coffee table. A white leather lounge faced a large-screen TV.

A tanning bed took up one end of the balcony. Weight lifting equipment took over a study nook.

Warriena Wright and Gable Tostee shown to the jury in Tostee's trial for murder. Photo / Supplied
Warriena Wright and Gable Tostee shown to the jury in Tostee's trial for murder. Photo / Supplied

They had a few drinks and tumbled into bed. They laughed and talked and took photos together out on the balcony.

Warriena sent a message to her sister, Marreza, back in New Zealand.

She'd met a guy, she said. He was the "Australian Sam Winchester" - a character off one of her favourite television shows, Supernatural.

It was late in New Zealand, so Reza sent her big sister a thumbs up and went to sleep. It was the last time she'd ever hear from her.

As the night wore on, Warriena became increasingly drunk and her behaviour more and more erratic.

At 12.55am, Tostee took out his Sony Xperia phone and hit record.

- Courier-Mail

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