Jarryd Hayne Granted Bail Until Sentencing, After Being Found Guilty of Sexual Assault

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Jarryd Hayne

Jarryd Hayne has been found guilty of sexual assault following his third jury trial, and granted bail ahead of his sentencing hearing next month. 

But the legal saga which is the prosecution of the fallen Rugby League star is far from over, as his sentencing hearing is almost certain to be followed by yet another appeal to the highest criminal court in the state, the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal (NSWCCA).

Guilty verdict  

Mr Hayne was found guilty earlier this week by a jury comprising six men and six women, at the Downing Centre District Court in Sydney’s Central Business District.

The jury deliberated for more than a week, ultimately finding Mr Hayne guilty of two counts of sexual intercourse without consent, also known as sexual assault, which is an offence that carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison. 

The backstory – three trials and two guilty verdicts 

Mr Hayne was charged in 2018 over the alleged sexual assault of a woman at her Newcastle home on NRL Grand Final night in September the same year. 

The sexual encounter between the pair ended when the woman began to bleed. Mr Hayne has always maintained the encounter was consensual and that any injuries caused were accidental.

Much has been reported about the evidence presented in court during the first trial in the Newcastle District Court in 2020, which ended in a hung jury, and the second trial, after which Mr Hayne was found guilty.  

The former NRL star was sentenced to five years and nine months in prison after the second trial, but walked free from prison in February 2022 after successfully winning an appeal against his conviction. 

Mr Hayne’s lawyers argued for appeal on the basis that in the second trial, the trial judge had erred in her directions to the jury and that the evidence of the complainant was inconsistent. 

The lawyers also submitted that an outburst from the complainant witness in court, when she yelled ‘no means no’ under cross-examination, was prejudicial and they sought a full acquittal. 

However, while the appeal was upheld, the NSWCCA ordered a retrial – which is the one that has just concluded. 

New witness and evidence 

New witness testimony from a man named Steven Page was brought into this third trial, and fresh evidence specifically relating to text messages that were sent between himself and the complainant (whose name is under suppression orders) on the same day she was sexually assaulted. 

When Mr Page said he did not want to meet with her, the woman said she would say “yes to Jarryd Hayne coming to hang out here when he’s done with his mates.”  

The court was told Mr Page’s evidence only came to light when he made contact with Hayne’s legal team during a previous trial and that police were not aware of the messages during their initial investigation into the sexual assault. 

Mr Page gave a statement to police earlier this year. 

The text message exchange was discussed at length during a pre-trial conference with Judge Graham Turnbill because they were banned from the previous jury, although mentioned in Hayne’s appeal in 2021. 

Judge Turnbull eventually agreed to allow the evidence to be presented to the jury. Defence barrister Margaret Cunneen SC claimed the victim attempted to “curate” her evidence in an attempt to get police and the jury to side with her.

The new evidence, however, appears to have had little impact on the jury’s final verdict. 

Hayne set to appeal 

Jarryd Hayne continues to maintain his innocence and his lawyers have already stated that he intends to launch an appeal.

But for now, Mr Hayne will be spending the next month preparing himself and his family for the very real prospect of his incarceration. He was granted bail based on a number of factors, including concerns about him being targeted in remand. 

The court heard that Mr Hayne and his family had already been subjected to intense media scrutiny, and that Mr Hayne had received threats posted online since the verdict was released, one which said: “Should lock him up with a few guys and teach him what it’s like to have your consent disregarded.” 

Under new bail laws introduced in New South Wales last year, offenders must prove to the court that there are “special or exceptional circumstances” for them to remain out of prison if they are found guilty of charges which carry a punishment of full-time imprisonment. 

Judge Turnbull has granted bail until Mr Hayne is due back in court on May 8 when the sentence will be handed down. Judge Turnbull has already told the court that “there’s no doubt” Mr Hayne will again go to jail.

Civil case pending 

In the meantime, the woman found to be his victim has commenced civil proceedings – these were filed in 2021 against the former NRL star, seeking compensation for the damage caused by the assault. 

These proceedings have been on hold until criminal proceedings were finalised – and with Mr Hayne looking set to appeal, the case that has already lingered on for five years, could take many more months to finalise. 

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Sonia Hickey

Sonia Hickey is a freelance writer, magazine journalist, and owner of 'Woman with Words'. She has a strong interest in social justice and is a member of the Sydney Criminal Lawyers® content team. Sonia is the winner of the Mondaq Thought Leadership Awards, Spring 2022.

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