Entertainment

The Curse of The Block: Inside the bitter break-ups, shock arrests and scandals

Talented contestants have made hundreds of thousands of dollars from their amazing home renovations on The Block. 

But while there’s many success stories from the popular Channel Nine series, the show has also been plagued with a string of controversies over the years.

From arrests, to surprise break-ups and an auction scandal, here are some of the biggest shocks to rock The Block. 

Suzi Taylor:

Fall from grace: She rose to fame as a bubbly contestant on The Block in 2015, but has made headlines for the wrong reasons since. Pictured: Suzi Taylor (left) and The Block co-star Yvonne Cosier (right)

Probably one of The Block’s most controversial contestants, Suzi Taylor, 50, has hit headlines multiple times since finding fame on the show in 2015.

The self-described ‘party girl’, whose real name is Suellen Jan Taylor, made headlines in January 2016 after sharing details of her ‘secret relationship’ with Weekend Today show host Richard ‘Dickie’ Wilkins. 

‘He gave me access to his house and I would be there in my underwear waiting for him when he got home from work,’ she claimed. 

But after months of sneaking around, Taylor said she was left heartbroken when Dickie suddenly ended their romance.      

Suzi found herself in court in October 2019, after she was accused of ‘honey trapping’ a Tinder date, whom she allegedly held against his will before he was assaulted and forced to transfer money.

She allegedly met David Butler, 33, on the dating app before inviting him to her home in New Farm, Brisbane.

It is alleged Suzi and her co-accused, Ali Ebrahimi, demanded money, bashed and tied up Mr Butler, who arrived carrying champagne but denies he wanted sex.

Police allege the assault was motivated by needing to pay off ‘rebels and bikies’ chasing her for money.

'I would be there in my underwear waiting for him when he got home from work': Suzi (left) made headlines in January 2016 after sharing details of her 'secret relationship' with Today show entertainment reporter Richard 'Dickie' Wilkins (right)

‘I would be there in my underwear waiting for him when he got home from work’: Suzi (left) made headlines in January 2016 after sharing details of her ‘secret relationship’ with Today show entertainment reporter Richard ‘Dickie’ Wilkins (right)

Legal dramas: Suzi found herself in court in October 2019, after she was accused of 'honey trapping' a Tinder date, whom she allegedly held against his will before he was assaulted and forced to transfer money

Legal dramas: Suzi found herself in court in October 2019, after she was accused of ‘honey trapping’ a Tinder date, whom she allegedly held against his will before he was assaulted and forced to transfer money

She left jail on bail the following month, but landed back behind bars for one night in January 2020 after she breached her bail conditions.

In March 2020, Suzi spent another night behind bars after being arrested for a second breach of her bail conditions. She pleaded guilty to living away from the property that was listed on her conditions.

Suzi was thrown back in jail for five months in June, after allegedly breaching bail enough times that magistrates had enough and revoked her bond. 

She was released in November with strict conditions – including wearing an electronic tracking device and a 24-hour curfew.

She was ordered to live with her mother, with whom she had recently reconciled, surrender her passport and undertake mental health treatment.

Charges: She is now facing more than 100 charges in total ¿ a majority of which concern her many breaches of bail

Charges: She is now facing more than 100 charges in total – a majority of which concern her many breaches of bail 

But in less than a month, her excessive drinking and alleged refusal to stick to her court-ordered curfew saw her booted from the family home.

She is currently back behind bars, and was accused in the Brisbane arrest court on Thursday, 25 March of again breaching her bail conditions and failing to appear for mandated court appearances.  

On Thursday, defence solicitor Michael Gatenby said Taylor was unable to show cause and would plead guilty to failing to appear and breaches of bail on April 13.

She is also due to face trial on the outstanding matters in a separate court.

Taylor is now facing more than 100 charges in total – a majority of which concern her many breaches of bail. 

Darren Jolly:

Fame: Former AFL star Darren Jolly and his estranged wife, Deanne, were popular contestants on The Block, appearing twice in 2014 and 2015, and winning the latter season

Fame: Former AFL star Darren Jolly and his estranged wife, Deanne, were popular contestants on The Block, appearing twice in 2014 and 2015, and winning the latter season 

Former AFL star Darren Jolly, 38, and his estranged wife, Deanne, were popular contestants on The Block – appearing twice in 2014 and 2015, and winning the latter season.

But the couple hit headlines two years ago, when they sadly announced they had ended their 15-year marriage.

After their split, Darren wrote on Instagram in October 2020 that he hadn’t been in contact with his two daughters since splitting from his wife in September 2019.

Fast forward to January 2021, and Darren set off alarm bells when he shared a troubling Instagram post where he claimed he could not ‘go on much longer’.

He was found safe, with his new girlfriend later taking to Instagram to advise Darren was ‘receiving the best care he needs right now’.

However, on March 25,  Darren fronted Ringwood Magistrates’ Court in Melbourne to face 10 domestic violence charges dating back to last year.

Trouble: On March 25, Darren fronted Ringwood Magistrates' Court in Melbourne to face 10 domestic violence charges dating back to last year

Trouble: On March 25, Darren fronted Ringwood Magistrates’ Court in Melbourne to face 10 domestic violence charges dating back to last year

No lawyer: When asked if he had legal representation, Jolly said he planned to represent himself at a contested hearing

No lawyer: When asked if he had legal representation, Jolly said he planned to represent himself at a contested hearing

No lawyer: When asked if he had legal representation, Jolly said he planned to represent himself at a contested hearing 

His alleged use of Instagram brought on most of the charges, which do not contain any allegations of actual physical violence.

On Thursday, he was told he faced 10 charges for breaching court orders. He said he planned to contest ‘most’ of the charges.

‘Except for the breach of the 200 metre rule, from the house when I dropped off the birthday cake,’ he said.

In his October Instagram post, he referred to the alleged ‘cake incident’. 

When asked if he had legal representation, Darren said he planned to represent himself at a contested hearing.

‘I do have a lawyer in Family Court proceedings that are continuing, but (in relation to these charges) I’ve opted not to have a lawyer because I can’t afford one anymore. I’ve spent too much money on them,’ he said. 

He faces up to five years in jail and/or be fined up to $93,276 if proven guilty over the domestic violence offences.

He will now engage in a case conference with Victoria Police in the hope of coming to a resolution. He will return to court in July.

Phil Rankine:

Shock: Phil Rankine faced court in August 2020 after allegedly stealing more than $5million from investors. He starred on The Block with his former wife Amity Dry in 2003 and in the All-Stars edition in 2013. The couple split up in 2018

Shock: Phil Rankine faced court in August 2020 after allegedly stealing more than $5million from investors. He starred on The Block with his former wife Amity Dry in 2003 and in the All-Stars edition in 2013. The couple split up in 2018

Phil Rankine faced court in August 2020 after allegedly stealing more than $5million from investors.

The 51-year-old was arrested two months prior on June 20, and appeared in Adelaide Magistrates Court charged with 20 counts of theft.

Rankine starred on The Block with his former wife Amity Dry in 2003 and in the All-Stars edition in 2013. The couple split up in 2018.

After his stint on reality TV, Rankine became a high-profile concert promoter in Adelaide, drawing big names to the city including Florence and the Machine, Bob Dylan and Bon Jovi.

Police allege Rankine stole money to use in his events between 2018 and 2019. 

Return: Rankine was granted bail to reappear on July 13 this year

Return: Rankine was granted bail to reappear on July 13 this year 

‘It will be alleged the man committed the thefts by obtaining money from the victims which was to be used for various high-profile Adelaide events.

‘Serious and Organised Financial Crime Investigation Section Detectives are continuing the investigation and further charges may be laid.’

The police prosecutor asked for an 11-month adjournment for Rankine’s case, with The Advertiser reporting there were ‘very complex matters’.

Rankine made no comment as he left the court room and was granted bail to reappear on July 13 this year.

He has not entered a plea yet, though his lawyer Greg Griffin previously stated ‘the proceedings will be vehemently defended’.

Auction scandal

Controversy: Last year, The Block was rocked by its biggest ever scandal, after mysterious buyer Emese Abigail Fajk (pictured) was accused of failing to pay for the home she won at auction in November

Controversy: Last year, The Block was rocked by its biggest ever scandal, after mysterious buyer Emese Abigail Fajk (pictured) was accused of failing to pay for the home she won at auction in November

Last year, The Block was rocked by its biggest ever scandal, after a mysterious buyer was accused of failing to pay for the home she won at auction in November.

At the centre of the controversy was Emese Abigail Fajk, a 28-year-old cyber security expert who bid $4.2million on Jimmy and Tam Wilkins’ home but didn’t stump up the money.

She presented receipts of bank transfers indicating the money for the house had gone through, but the large sum never reached Channel Nine’s bank accounts.

Tam and Jimmy choked back tears as they told A Current Affair how they’d been left blindsided by the strange turn of events.

‘Here we are now not knowing what’s going to happen. It’s something no one ever saw coming, no one ever expected, but it’s something we now have to deal with,’ Jimmy said.

Bizarre: The 28-year-old cyber security expert bid $4.2million on Jimmy and Tam Wilkins' home, but didn't stump up the money

Bizarre: The 28-year-old cyber security expert bid $4.2million on Jimmy and Tam Wilkins’ home, but didn’t stump up the money

When confronted by Nine reporter Alison Piotrowski, Emese insisted she had paid the deposit for the property and had receipts to prove it.

‘I’m trying to find out what’s going on,’ she claimed.

She then took to social media to claim she had been ‘thrown under the bus’.

‘I didn’t get forms in time that I needed to sign, I had to find crucial information on my own, even though I paid someone else to make sure there are no hiccups,’ she wrote.

‘I still believe there is a happy ending here somewhere for everyone involved.’

Oh no: For Jimmy and Tam, the saga continues, with real estate agents recently walking potential buyers through their off-market Brighton home

Oh no: For Jimmy and Tam, the saga continues, with real estate agents recently walking potential buyers through their off-market Brighton home

However in February 2021, Emese claimed she had given up on buying Jimmy and Tam’s $4.2million home and that she’s the victim of a conspiracy.

For Jimmy and Tam, the saga continues, with real estate agents recently walking potential buyers through their off-market Brighton home.

The Block’s host Scott Cam was recently forced to deny he had purchased the property following rumours published in New Idea magazine.

Jess Eva and Norm Hogan

Fan favourites: Jess and Norm became household names after starring in the 2018 season of The Block, and share son Fred, five, and daughter Matilda, two

Fan favourites: Jess and Norm became household names after starring in the 2018 season of The Block, and share son Fred, five, and daughter Matilda, two

Jess and Norm became household names after starring in the 2018 season of The Block, and share son Fred, five, and daughter Matilda, two.

During the show’s finale, the couple sold their apartment at auction for $2,859,000, making a tidy profit of $209,000.

However, just last year, Jess and Norm confirmed they’d blown every penny of their cash prize in just two years.

Speaking on Triple M’s Moonman In The Morning, Jess revealed the couple blew the cash on swimming pools, gambling and ‘helping out their friends’.

‘The first thing we bought was two above-ground pools… and we handed them out to our friends like lollies,’ she revealed.

‘We just had friends who had been wanting a pool for ages… They’re $5,000 each, so there’s $10,000,’ she said.

Jess also revealed the couple spent a portion of the prize money betting on a tennis match.

‘Remember when Ash Barty was starting out on the tennis circuit and we didn’t know she was going to be a winner and she was playing against Maria Sharapova?’ she told her co-hosts, Lawrence Mooney and Chris Page.

Gone: However, just last year, Jess and Norm confirmed they'd blown every penny of their $209,000 cash prize in just two years

Gone: However, just last year, Jess and Norm confirmed they’d blown every penny of their $209,000 cash prize in just two years

‘We put thousands on Maria Sharapova and it was just when Ash Barty was starting her winning streak… I’ll never forget Norm’s look after Maria lost the second set, he just had tears in his eyes,’ she said.

Jess also revealed she and Norm paid off a friend’s car loan, bought two lawnmowers and even purchased a block of land on Queensland’s Russell Island.

The mother-of-two told Daily Mail Australia the couple originally had plans to become property developers but things changed when they returned home.

‘When we got home, we felt guilty that we had won all this money and felt a lot happier having fun and sharing it with our friends,’ she said.

Jess said that while she doesn’t have any regrets, if she won $200,000 now she’d be much more responsible.

The Block’s shock break-ups:

Shaynna Blaze and husband Steve Vaughan

Over: Shaynna Blaze announced her split from her personal trainer husband of 18 years, Steve Vaughan, in August 2018

Over: Shaynna Blaze announced her split from her personal trainer husband of 18 years, Steve Vaughan, in August 2018

Shaynna Blaze announced her split from her personal trainer husband of 18 years, Steve Vaughan, in August 2018.

The interior designer wrote on Instagram: ‘Sometime in life, our paths change directions and now this is one of those times for me, with Steve and I separating.

‘I will not be making any further statements about this and whilst I appreciate your support, I ask that you respect our right to privacy. Thank you, Shaynna.’

Shaynna and Steve tied the knot 20 years ago. They had previously been dating for 11 months after meeting at a local bar in Melbourne.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, The Block judge reflected on hitting rock bottom the following year.

The 57-year-old, who threw herself into work following the marriage breakdown, admitted to finding herself in ‘a hole’ that she couldn’t ‘get out of’.

‘I couldn’t actually stop [working]… I was on that rat wheel for a long time. But it was this time last year when I was really forced to take a step back and say no to a lot of things, simply because I had to,’ Shaynna said.

Chantelle Ford and Steve O’Donnell

Gone: Chantelle Ford and Steve O'Donnell soared to fame in the 2014 season, with a number of expletive-ridden fights often making their relationship look uncertain at best

Gone: Chantelle Ford and Steve O’Donnell soared to fame in the 2014 season, with a number of expletive-ridden fights often making their relationship look uncertain at best

Chantelle and Steve soared to fame in the 2014 season, with a number of expletive-ridden fights often making their relationship look uncertain at best.

Fans of the popular renovation show therefore weren’t surprised to hear that 14 months after they bagged a whopping $736,000 in prize money, the pair chose to go their separate ways.

The duo announced the news via their shared Facebook page, where they wrote: ‘We interrupt your Sunday night to let you know that we are no longer a couple.’

Explaining that the separation was a mutual one, the reality stars continued: ‘We’ve had an incredible 3.5+ years together and remain the best of mates, but both agree that we are better off as friends.

‘There’s no drama, no scandal, we’re just two people with an enormous amount of respect for each other who, together, made this difficult decision.’

Steve is now engaged to make-up artist Jessica Oxwell, while Chantelle is believed to be single.

Madi and Jarrod Coppock 

Splitsville: Despite at first denying rumours their marriage had ended, The Block's 2013 couple Madi and Jarrod Coppock divorced a year after they made $291,000 on their apartment in Melbourne

Splitsville: Despite at first denying rumours their marriage had ended, The Block’s 2013 couple Madi and Jarrod Coppock divorced a year after they made $291,000 on their apartment in Melbourne

Despite at first denying rumours their marriage had ended, The Block’s 2013 couple Madi and Jarrod Coppock divorced a year after they made $291,000 on their apartment in Melbourne.

Since their break-up, Jarrod proposed to his girlfriend Tilly Parker in 2018. The pair welcomed a daughter together the following year.

Madi no longer has social media, but Woman’s Day claims she married her new partner in 2015.

Whitney Nolan and Andrew Simmons

Whitney called time on her romance with Andrew shortly after completing filming their season in 2015.

She revealed she ended the couple’s professional and personal relationship by moving out of their Melbourne home, admitting: ‘Yes, there were tears.’

Speaking to Woman’s Day, Whitney said: ‘Officially it just ended, but in my eyes it was weeks ago, when we started on the communal level. It’s tough going through a break-up, and especially having to explain that to the other person.’

She continued: ‘He was upset and I was upset, but I think we both understood it was coming to an end. We both knew it was going to happen because I wasn’t happy for a little while.’

Andrew only had kind words to say about his former partner and told the publication that he hoped they could get back together in the future.

He also revealed that he would look for a partner with some of Whitney’s qualities and stated: ‘I’ll still be there for her no matter what.’

Done: Whitney Nolan called time on her romance with Andrew Simmons shortly after completing filming the Channel Nine show in 2015

Done: Whitney Nolan called time on her romance with Andrew Simmons shortly after completing filming the Channel Nine show in 2015


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