NRL Player Jack de Belin Set to Face Second Trial Over Aggravated Sexual Assault Charges

Poppy Morandin.

 

NRL star Jack de Belin and his co-accused, junior rugby league player Callan Sinclair, will face a re-trial in April 2021, after their original trial resulted in the jury being unable to deliver a unanimous or majority verdict.

The jury of seven men and five women deliberated for almost 10 hours, after a trial that lasted nearly a month, before informing the judge that they were unable to come to a decision.

District court Judge, Andrew Haesler subsequently discharged the hung jury.

Mr de Belin, 29, and Mr Sinclair, 23, have both pleaded not guilty to five counts of aggravated sexual assault.

Their encounter with a then 19-year-old female, in December 2018, is the subject of the matter, with both men insisting it was consensual.

Both Mr de Belin and Mr Sinclair had been partying in Wollongong for the annual ‘Santa pub crawl’, when the young female met the pair.

It is alleged that she kissed Mr Sinclair multiple times at the Mr Crown bar, before going with them to Mr de Belin’s cousin’s apartment, where the incident occurred.

Prosecution, David Scully SC, stated that while the pair thought “she was keen and they wanted to have a threesome with her,” that “this is where the fundamental disconnect arises — that is that neither of the accused, the Crown argues, bothered to tell the complainant about their plan to have consensual sex with her.”

At the time that Mr de Belin was charged, the NRL permitted players to continue taking part in the competition until their case was resolved, and they were deemed guilty or innocent.

Following what was dubbed by the media as the ‘Summer of Hell’, in which 17 off-field incidents created an unprecedented amount of negative attention, the NRL introduced the ‘No-Fault Stand Down’.

The rule prescribes that where a player is charged with an offence punishable by 11 years in jail or more, that they will be automatically suspended from playing in the competition.

However, they will remain on full pay and can continue to train with their club, until the resolution of their case.

Following such developments, Mr de Belin was impacted by the rule has now missed two seasons of NRL, with the retrial indicating that he will miss the start of a third, or possibly longer.

His lawyer, David Campbell SC has commented that: “The absence of some discretionary element in the rule is highlighted by this case because somebody could be held out for five years.”

“There needs to be some discretionary amelioration with the harshness of the rule.”

Nonetheless, the NRL has stood firm on its controversial policy.

Mr de Belin remains under contract with the St George Dragons, and Mr Sinclair continues to play for the Shellharbour Sharks at the junior level.

Pursuant to section 61J of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), any person who has sexual intercourse with another person without the consent of the other person, knows that the other person does not consent, and does so in circumstances of aggravation, faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail.

Circumstances of aggravation include, where the accused, at the time of, or before or after, the commission of the offence:

  • intentionally or recklessly inflicts actual bodily harm on the alleged victim or any other person who is present or nearby, or threatens to do so with a weapon, or
  • threatens to inflict grievous bodily harm or wounding on the alleged victim or any other person who is present or nearby.

Actual bodily harm entails an injury that need not be permanent, but more than merely transient or trifling (R v Donovan [1934] 2 KB 498).

Comparatively, grievous bodily harm is any ‘really serious injury’ (Kbayli [2017] NSWDC 197), and includes any permanent or serious disfiguring of the person, the destruction (other than during a medical procedure or lawful abortion) of the foetus of a pregnant woman, whether or not the woman suffers any other harm, and any serious disease pursuant to section 4(1) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

Furthermore, aggravating circumstances include situations in which:

  • the alleged offender is in the company of another person or persons,
  • the alleged victim is under the age of 16 years,
  • the alleged victim is under the authority of the alleged offender,
  • the alleged victim has a serious physical disability or cognitive impairment,
  • the alleged offender breaks and enters into a building with the intention of committing the offence or any other serious indictable offence, or
  • the alleged offender deprives the alleged victim of their liberty for a period before or after the commission of the offence.

Pursuant to section 61HA of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), sexual intercourse means penetration of the alleged victim’s genitalia, introduction of any part of the penis of a person into the mouth of another person and cunnilingus (orally stimulating a victim’s genitals).

Have a question? Ask one of our Parramatta criminal lawyers today.

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