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Jarryd Hayne released after conviction overturned

Jarryd Hayne

Former NRL star Jarryd Hayne will be released from custody after winning his appeal against a rape conviction in the New South Wales court of criminal appeal. Hayne has spent a year in prison following a conviction on two counts of sexual intercourse without consent in April 2023, with an earlier guilty verdict overturned in a separate appeal.

Hayne made his NRL debut with the Parramatta Eels in 2006, where he enjoyed a long and successful spell, playing 176 games and winning numerous individual honours, including the Dally M Player of the Year in 2014. That year, he moved to the NFL to join the San Francisco 49ers, before returning to the NRL in 2016.

In 2018, during the final year of a second spell with Parramatta, Hayne was accused of raping a woman with his hands and mouth in her home on the night of the NRL Grand Final. He was jailed for four years and nine months, with a three-year non-parole period, in May 2023.

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Jarryd Hayne released from prison

Jarryd Hayne

Credit: Imago Images

Following his successful appeal, Hayne was granted unopposed bail on Wednesday afternoon (Australian time). The case will return to the state district’s court in late July, as the prosecutors decide on whether to pursue a re-trial, which would be his fourth trial.

The appeal court ruled that the judge in the original trial should have allowed the complainant to be cross-examined further during the trial. The appeal court also judged that the jury had received insufficient guidance on how to deal with allegations that the complainant had lied.

Speaking on the decision to uphold the appeal, Justice Deborah Sweeney stated, “I am of the view there is a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted,” in the court’s published reasons.

However, Justice Anthony Meager stated: “I am comfortably of the opinion that it was open to the jury to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt [Jarryd Hayne] was guilty,”.

The court ordered a new trial, however, the prosecutors must decide if they wish to pursue the case further.

Appeal hinged on key text messages

Jarryd Hayne

Credit: Imago Images

In total, three separate criminal trials have been told that the woman involved changed her mind about engaging in intercourse with Hayne upon realising there was a taxi waiting for him outside her home.

Hayne’s barrister, Tim Game SC, argued in the appeal that the woman had deleted messages between her and Hayne which showed that she had initially shown interest in the ex-NRL star.

Hayne’s defence team argued, in the appeal, that the woman should have been cross-examined further, as she had allegedly told police that, “If those message get out, I’m f***ed and he will get off.”

Justice Sweeney stated that the decision by the judge not to cross-examine the woman on this in the original trial had been a mistake.

“It was for the jury to have the opportunity to see how the complainant answered the questions asked, assess her answers and the way she gave them, and decide if they accepted her answers,” Sweeney stated.

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