14 July, 2024
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Jarryd Hayne Granted Bail Amidst Uncertainty of Fourth Trial

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Jarryd Hayne is eagerly anticipating reuniting with his family after being granted bail following the quashing of his rape convictions for a second time. However, the former NRL star still faces the possibility of a fourth trial as he awaits his next court date.

Hayne, 36, has spent over a year in prison after being found guilty in April 2023 of two counts of sexual intercourse without consent. His lawyer, Lauren MacDougall, declined to comment on the likelihood of another trial after leaving the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal on Wednesday, following a successful appeal to overturn the April conviction.

“He’s really looking forward to getting home to his family,” MacDougall stated.

Prosecutors did not oppose Hayne’s bail but requested time to consider whether to pursue another trial before the next court appearance on July 26.

“Any decision about a possible retrial will be made in accordance with the prosecution guidelines,” a spokeswoman for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions said.

The state’s highest court quashed Hayne’s convictions, citing errors made by the trial judge, who did not allow further cross-examination of the complainant about her communications with third parties regarding the night of the alleged assault. The court also found the judge failed to properly instruct the jury on allegations that the complainant had lied about the contact, further complicating the case.

Hayne’s third ground of appeal, which claimed the guilty verdicts were unsafe or unreasonable, was not upheld, despite one judge’s agreement.

“I believe there is a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted,” Justice Deborah Sweeney stated in the court’s published reasons.

However, she was overruled by Justices Stephen Rothman and Anthony Meagher. Justice Meagher did not support any grounds of the appeal.

“I am confident it was open to the jury to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Hayne was guilty,” he said.

Hayne was accused of raping a woman with his hands and mouth at her Newcastle home on the night of the 2018 NRL Grand Final. During three separate trials, it was revealed the woman changed her mind about having sex with Hayne after discovering he had a taxi waiting outside.

Sentenced to four years and nine months in jail, Hayne had already served some time before his earlier successful appeal.

Justice Rothman suggested there was good reason to avoid a fourth trial, noting it was unlikely to occur before Hayne’s three-year non-parole period expired in May 2025. Justice Sweeney shared a similar view, considering the case’s history.

“To put Hayne on trial for a fourth time would not be in the interests of justice,” she said.

Hayne’s barrister, Tim Game SC, argued during April’s appeal that messages the woman sent to Hayne and others, deleted from her phone, amounted to deliberate concealment of evidence. The defence contended the woman should have been cross-examined on why she allegedly told police, “If those messages get out, I’m f***ed and he will get off.”

Judge Graham Turnbull, overseeing Hayne’s third trial in the NSW District Court, had refused requests for further cross-examination of the woman, asserting that her anticipated answers, and their absence, would not create any real unfairness.

However, Justices Sweeney and Rothman ruled that Hayne’s lawyers should have been allowed to question the complainant further, leaving the jury to assess her evidence and credibility.

Hayne’s quashed convictions follow a hung jury in his first trial in 2020 and a previous appeal overturning guilty verdicts from his second trial in 2021.

For support, contact 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) or the National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service at 1800 211 028.

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