Ex-NRL star Hayne in second bid to quash rape verdicts

Jack Gramenz |

Jarryd Hayne, who is eligible for parole in May 2025, is appealing against his rape conviction.
Jarryd Hayne, who is eligible for parole in May 2025, is appealing against his rape conviction.

Former footballer Jarryd Hayne will again try to overturn his rape convictions after being jailed in his third trial.

The 35-year-old former rugby league star was found guilty on two counts of sexual intercourse without consent over an incident at a woman’s home near Newcastle on the night of the 2018 NRL Grand Final.

He was in town for a bucks’ weekend and paid a taxi driver $550 to wait outside the house, which the woman shared with her mother, before he was driven to Sydney.

Charges came in November 2018 after the rape allegations reached the NRL’s integrity unit.

Jarryd Hayne and wife Amellia Bonnici (file image)
Hayne returned to custody in April, 10 days after a jury again found him guilty of sexual assault. (Steven Saphore/AAP PHOTOS)

Hayne went back into custody in April, 10 days after a jury ruled he sexually assaulted the woman using his hands and mouth.

The guilty verdict followed a hung jury in his first trial in 2020 and a previous appeal overturning the 2021 guilty verdict of a second trial that resulted in Hayne spending nine months in jail.

The ex-footballer’s previous time in custody was factored into his May sentence of four years and nine months with a non-parole period of three years.

Hayne will be eligible for parole in May 2025, but his lawyers will argue his convictions should be quashed and he should be freed before then.

The appeal was flagged soon after the verdict and came before NSW Court of Criminal Appeal on Thursday.

Solicitor Phoebe MacDougall told the court it would take three or four hours for barrister Tim Game SC to argue the case.

In addition to arguing an unreasonable verdict, some grounds of the appeal relate to matters raised during Hayne’s trial.

Mr Game represented Hayne in a previous appeal, securing his release from prison in February 2022.

Hayne will watch via audio-visual link from custody when the appeal is heard in April.

The woman he sexually assaulted, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, told Hayne’s sentencing her life had been “launched into what feels like a never-ending nightmare” in the rape’s aftermath.

“I am stronger and I am wiser, but I am damaged and I won’t ever be the same person,” she wrote in a statement read to the court.

Hayne’s conviction constituted a “plummet” from his former standing as a famous footballer celebrated for his community contributions, Judge Graham Turnbull said during sentencing.

The 35-year-old is the only fullback crowned the NRL’s best player in two seasons, playing 214 top-tier games for the Parramatta Eels and Gold Coast Titans as well as representing Australia and Fiji internationally, and NSW in 23 State of Origin games.

The NRL is waiting for Hayne’s appeal avenues to close before considering stripping his two Dally M medals from 2009 and 2014 and other awards.

Hayne’s appeal returns to court for a pre-hearing callover in March.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028

AAP