Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne set to walk free after rape conviction overturned

Rugby Australia Hayne Appeal (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Rugby Australia Hayne Appeal (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Former rugby league star Jarryd Hayne is set to walk free after a court overturned his rape conviction following a successful appeal.

The 36-year-old has been in prison for the past year after being convicted of sexual intercourse without consent on the night of the 2018 National Rugby League grand final.

He was sentenced to four years and nine months in jail with a non-parole period of three years and eight months. He denied attacking the woman and claimed they had consensual sex.

The New South Wales court of criminal appeal squashed Hayne’s conviction, ruling that a judge erred in not allowing the complainant to be further cross-examined during his trial.

The Sydney-based court also ruled the trial judge did not properly direct the jury on how to deal with allegations that the woman had lied.

The court ordered a new trial, which would be his fourth. But it will be up to state prosecutors to see if another trial is required.

On Wednesday afternoon, Hayne was granted bail which was not contested by the prosecutors, reported ABC News.

Three separate criminal trials were told that the woman whose identity is protected by legal restrictions decided against having sex with Haynes after she found that he had a taxi waiting outside her house.

“My heart dropped kind of thing ’cause I-I felt like he had only come there for one thing,” the complainant said in her evidence. Prosecutors alleged that Hayne left the woman bleeding and was forceful.

Hayne’s barrister, Tim Game SC, said in an April hearing that the woman deleted text messages exchanged between herself and Hayne that demonstrated her initial sexual interest in him.

They told the court that the woman should have been cross-examined based on the messages, including her telling the police: “If those message get out, I’m f***** and he will get off.”

Judge Graham Turnbull, who oversaw Hayne’s third trial, refused requests for examining the woman on the statement and said it carried “almost infinitesimal weight”.

Hayne was one of the most high-profile athletes in Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) between 2006 and 2018. He represented Australia and Fiji at international level.

He briefly played American football in the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers in 2015.

Hayne’s first trial in 2020 concluded after the jury was discharged after failing to deliver a majority verdict.

He was convicted at the second trial in 2021 and served nine months of a sentence of five years and nine months before he successfully appealed and was released ahead of a third trial.