Beale rape accuser had ‘obvious’ motive to lie: lawyer

Duncan Murray |

Kurtley Beale’s rape case was doomed to fail, his lawyer Margaret Cunneen (left) said.
Kurtley Beale’s rape case was doomed to fail, his lawyer Margaret Cunneen (left) said.

A rape case against rugby star Kurtley Beale was entirely contradicted by CCTV footage of the night and should never have been pursued, his lawyers have argued

Beale is pursuing legal costs after being found not guilty in February of one count of sexual intercourse without consent and two counts of sexual touching.

Margaret Cunneen (file image)
Ms Cunneen pointed out the woman didn’t appear distressed emerging from the bathroom. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

It took a jury just two hours to reach its verdict, rejecting the woman’s account Beale forced her to perform oral sex in a toilet cubicle at Bondi’s Beach Road Hotel in December 2022.

The woman’s story did not match up with CCTV footage which would have been clear to prosecuting authorities “right from the start”, Beale’s barrister Margaret Cunneen SC told a hearing at Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court on Friday.

“Just to read this brief and to see the CCTV is enough to say this case is doomed to fail,” she told the court.

“This isn’t just a word against word case.”

The circumstances of the woman also at the time being in an argument with her fiance gave her a “clear, obvious, pressing, immediate” motivation to lie to save her relationship, Ms Cunneen submitted.

“Her relationship had come to a very parlous point. It was the lowest point in the relationship according to the fiance,” she said.

Text messages detailing a dispute between the pair demonstrated the only way for the woman to “spin” the story and get her fiance back on side was to make the complaint against Beale, Ms Cunneen argued.

“It works, because he goes from being completely uninterested in what she’s saying to becoming sympathetic,” she said. 

Kurtley Beale (file image)
The Crown said Beale’s “admissions” in a phone call were enough to warrant pursuing the case. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

Crown prosecutor Philip Hogan told the court “admissions” made by Beale during a recorded phone call with the woman were enough to warrant pursuing the case.

“There’s another even more fundamental way in which this isn’t a case of word against word,” he told the court.

In the call, Beale admits potentially having misread the situation and says, “I was super f***ing pissed, but no excuses in that regard”.

“I thought for some reason it was on,” Beale also says during the call.

Mr Hogan told the court the Crown would be entitled to treat Beale’s comments as an admission.

In the defence’s case, the woman and Beale did have a sexual encounter in a cubicle of the men’s bathroom, but the woman was consenting.

In making her complaint, the woman initially claimed Beale had followed her into the bathroom, when CCTV footage showed Beale entering first followed by the woman.

Kurtley Beale at a Wallabies camp (file image)
The former Wallabies playmaker has signed a short-term deal with the Western Force. (Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS)

“Various people were either told or understood from what she said that Mr Beale had followed her into the bathroom,” Ms Cunneen said.

“That was not the case.”

Ms Cunneen also pointed to footage in the moments directly after the pair emerged from the bathroom, in which the woman does not appear to be in any distress around Beale.

“We know that there was no apparent discomfort between the complainant and Mr Beale that there was even physical kissing and hugging,” Ms Cunneen said.

Judge Graham Turnbull said that given current social awareness of variations in the way people react to trauma, the prosecution may have relied on her reaction afterwards to have been a “neutral factor”.

“People respond in different ways and just because someone doesn’t cry out, for example, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen,” he said.

Ms Cunneen said in the footage the woman appears “extremely warm and affectionate” in circumstances where she claims Beale’s final words after raping her were to “f*** off”.

“So far I haven’t heard of a rape myth that says victims can then be seen to embrace their attacker,” she said.

A hearing has been set for June 14 for a decision on costs.

The former Wallabies playmaker has signed a short-term deal with the Western Force until the end of the Super Rugby Pacific season,  after his court case sidelined him for 14 months until he turned out in mid-March for Sydney club side Randwick.

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