Former NRL star Jarryd Hayne in court as sexual assault trial gets underway in Newcastle
24 November, 2020, 5:24 pm
Former NRL star Jarryd Hayne allegedly sexually assaulted a woman at her home in a Newcastle suburb, inflicting an injury on her, while he was in the region for a bucks party two years ago, a jury has been told.
Mr Hayne, 32, arrived at Newcastle District Court on Monday ready to face trial on two charges of aggravated sexual intercourse without consent, recklessly inflicting actual bodily harm. He has pleaded not guilty.
However, the day was mostly consumed by procedural legal issues, with prosecutor Brian Costello and Mr Hayne’s barrister Phillip Boulten, SC, expected to make opening statements to the jury on Tuesday morning.
On Monday, the jury panel was told the trial would involve an allegation that Mr Hayne assaulted a woman at Fletcher, a suburb on the western outskirts of Newcastle, on September 30, 2018.
It will be alleged the incident took place in the bedroom of the woman’s home, coincidentally on the day of the NRL grand final that year.
The jury was told the background to Mr Hayne being in Newcastle on grand final weekend was to attend a two-day bucks party for another rugby league player, Fijian international Kevin Naiqama.
A list of names of people expected to be mentioned in the trial was read out on Monday, including the woman who was allegedly assaulted, several of her friends and relatives, two doctors, a taxi driver, and several police officers.
The jury was also read a list of bucks party attendees, including other high-profile international rugby league players Wes Naiqama, Kane Evans, Junior Roqica, Marcelo Montoya, Sauaso “Jesse” Sue, Apisai Koroisau, and Aku Uate.
Other people who may be mentioned in the trial include rugby league players Mitchell Pearce and Brad Takairangi, and journalist and Herald columnist Danny Weidler, the jury was told.
In introductory remarks to the jury, Judge Peter Whitford explained how the estimated two-week trial will be run and said Mr Hayne “has had, for a number of years” quite a public profile.
Judge Whitford said the jury might have “sympathy or antipathy” towards the footballer, but they need to put that to one side and engage in only “a rational assessment of the evidence”.
The jury was also told to disregard anything they may have learned about Mr Hayne and his circumstances.
The trial continues.