Former National Rugby League star Jarryd Hayne is back in Downing Centre District Court to face a third trial over allegations of sexual assault.
Vehemently maintains innocence
Mr Hayne has steadfastly maintained his innocence throughout years of prosecution, and has formally pleaded not guilty once again to two counts of sexual intercourse without consent, also known as sexual assault.
He is presumed innocent until and unless he is proven to be guilty in a court of law.
Judge’s opening address
Given Mr Hayne’s high profile as a former NRL superstar, the protracted court battle and the extensive media coverage, Presiding Judge Graham Turnbull has directed all jurors to bring an open and unbiased thought process to the task at hand, saying they must be capable of approaching the trial with “a blank sheet of paper in mentally”.
His Honour has further directed the jury to consider only the evidence presented at trial when determining whether the prosecution is able to discharge its onus of proven Mr Hayne’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The allegations arose from an encounter between Mr Hayne and a woman in the Hunter Valley on Grand Final night on 30 September 2018.
It is common ground that the pair had been communicating on social media that evening, before Mr Hayne agreed to travel to the woman’s home.
The pair engaged in sexual intercourse at that premises, during which the complainant is said to have suffered physical injuries.
The woman later reported the matter to police and Mr Hayne was charged with aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Mr Hayne has consistently maintained the sexual activity was entirely consensual.
Potential of media prejudice
Due to the ongoing nature of the proceedings, we have been asked not to report on the outcomes of Mr Hayne’s first two trials, and we have acceded to that request.
So here we are, March 2023, with Mr Hayne facing a third trial over allegations he has vehemently refuted for years.
It is fairly unusual for a defendant to face a third trials over allegations by one complainant in circumstances where many hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars have been spent to prosecute the case, and one wonders whether the prosecution is consistent with DPP guidelines to expend resources only in circumstances where this is in the public interest.
The complainant has commenced civil proceedings against Mr Hayne for compensation over the alleged sexual assault.
Those proceedings are currently on hold and are expected to recommence after the current criminal proceedings are finalised.