Tense wait for Jack de Belin as three week-long rape trial comes to a close and jurors are told to ‘take as long as they need’ to reach a verdict
- Jack de Belin and Callan Sinclair’s three week rape trial concluded on Thursday
- The pair have pleaded not guilty to five counts of aggravated sexual assault
- Judge Andrew Haesler said jurors can ‘take as long as you need’ to reach verdict
Twelve jurors have begun deliberating the guilt of NSW State of Origin representative Jack de Belin and his friend Callan Sinclair after the pair’s weeks-long rape trial concluded.
The Wollongong District Court jury received further legal directions on Thursday morning from Judge Andrew Haesler before retiring to consider their verdicts.
‘Even if you prefer the prosecution evidence, you cannot convict unless you are not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt,’ he said.
The St George Illawarra forward, 29, and his friend, Callan Sinclair, 23, have pleaded not guilty to five counts of aggravated sexual assault, saying the early-morning encounter with a woman in December 2018 was consensual.
Jack de Belin (left) and friend Callan Sinclair (right) have pleaded not guilty to five charges of aggravated sexual assault
The trial, which began on November 3, heard allegations the woman entered a North Wollongong unit with the men to use the toilet and was assaulted after leaving a bedroom ensuite.
The then-19-year-old woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the jury the men ignored her protests and raped her as she cried and just ‘let it happen’.
Crown prosecutor David Scully said the men hadn’t planned to rape her before arriving at the unit, but a ‘fundamental disconnect’ had occurred between the complainant’s intentions and what the men wanted to do with the woman
‘They wanted to have a threesome with her. But the difficulty is – and this is where the fundamental disconnect arises – neither of the accused bothered to tell the complainant that they wanted to go back to the unit, much less to go back to the unit to have sex with her,’ Mr Scully said in his closing address.
The men, who both chose to testify, said the woman had consented – uttering ‘yes’ and appeared to enjoy the threesome.
De Belin, who was charged shortly after the sexual encounter on December 9, 2018, said he’d proposed a threesome with the woman on a nightclub dance floor after watching her flirt with Sinclair.
Jack de Belin (pictured leaving Wollongong District Court) and Callan Sinclair’s three week rape trial will finish on Thursday
When she mentioned his girlfriend, he said he could keep a secret if the 19-year-old could, the jury heard.
‘He conducted himself in a way that was morally wrong. He knows that. He cheated on his partner. He knows that. He should have been more respectful. He knows that,’ de Belin’s barrister, David Campbell SC, said in closing.
‘While that which happened is not something to be praised, it certainly does not … involve any criminal conduct on the part of either Mr de Belin or Mr Sinclair.’
Sinclair’s lawyer told the jury they could easily conclude the men hadn’t treated the teenager ‘as attentively as they should have’.
‘Let me make this point clear … with sensitivity, firmness and respect; consent given at the relevant time but later regretted is still consent,’ Craig Smith SC said in his final address.
The trial ran beyond its three-week estimate and will not sit Friday to allow a juror to attend an appointment.
Should no verdict be reached by Thursday afternoon, jurors will continue deliberations on Monday.
‘There is no magic time a juror takes to reach a verdict … you will have as long as you need,’ Judge Haesler told the jury on Wednesday.
Judge Andrew Haesler said jurors can ‘take as long as you need’ to reach a verdict. Pictured: Sinclair outside Wollongong District Court