Jarryd Hayne has had his sexual assault conviction quashed on appeal and a retrial has been ordered.
The former football star was convicted last year of two counts of sexual intercourse without consent, which is also known as sexual assault.
The jury in his second trial returned a guilty verdict after the first trial ended in a hung jury. The jury in the first trial, which was finalised in December 2020, could not reach a final verdict.
He has steadfastly maintained his innocence, saying that the encounter was consensual, and that it ended after the woman became injured during sexual activity and her genitals began bleeding.
His appeal was lodged in the days following his conviction.
As a result of that appeal. His convictions have been quashed, and a retrial has been ordered – although no date has yet been set.
The case for a retrial
Criminal defence lawyers for Mr Hayne argued successfully in the Criminal Court of Appeal (CCA) that he should be retried on the basis that it was an error to overturn a ruling from the first trial regarding the complainant’s messages with another person being admitted into evidence.
They also argued successfully that directions given to the jury in the second trial were “flawed in almost every possible way” when detailing the mental element of the offence.
They argued the trial judge’s jury directions were peppered with words such as “might” and “may”, which clouded the legal principles the jurors were required to rely on.
What are jury directions?
After all the evidence has been elicited during a trial and closing submissions have been made by both parties, the judge will sum up the case for the jury and give information regarding the law.
These remarks are known as directions to the jury and they include the fact the prosecution bears the onus of proving each element of the alleged offence beyond a reasonable doubt, as well as the elements (ingredients of the offence) and the ‘fault element’ – also known as a mental element – which may be intent, knowledge, recklessness or negligence.
Two other appeal grounds, which were dismissed include:
That the jury verdict was unreasonable and that it was an error to allow the jury to view the complainant’s “outburst” from the first trial during which she began to cry during a line of questioning at, at one point called Mr Hayne a “fucking piece of shit”.
The Court of Criminal Appeal has the power to order a straight acquittal – but a retrial is the more common course.
Mr Hayne is due to face a bail hearing this week which will determine whether he can leave the Cooma Correctional facility until his next trial. He has served just over 9 months of his original sentence.
In the meantime, Mr Hayne is facing civil proceedings over the same alleged sexual assault.
The civil claim, which has been filed in the NSW Supreme Court, is unlikely to proceed until after Mr Hayne’s appeal against his criminal conviction is completely finalised.
It has been a long and drawn out battle for the former NRL star, with some delays as a result of court backlogs caused by Covid-19.
Civil lawsuit filed in the NSW Supreme Court
It is not the first civil claim against Mr Hayne.
In 2017 a woman commenced civil proceedings in the US for sexual battery, battery, gender violence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence over an incident that allegedly occurred when Mr Hayne was playing with the San Francisco 49ers.
The matter was eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed financial sum. Criminal charges were never brought against Mr Hayne over the incident because police determined there was insufficient evidence.