Rugby league-Hayne freed from jail after sexual assault convictions quashed

  • Rugby
  • Wednesday, 12 Jun 2024

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Former Australia rugby league international Jarryd Hayne had his sexual assault convictions quashed by an appeal court on Wednesday and will be released 12 months after being sentenced to nearly five years in prison.

The 36-year-old, who also had a brief stint in the National Football League (NFL) with the San Francisco 49ers, was last year found guilty of two counts of sexual intercourse without consent and sentenced to four years and nine months in jail.

Hayne had pleaded not guilty to both charges and had had an earlier guilty verdict overturned on appeal.

On Wednesday in a split decision, the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal quashed the convictions on the basis that the trial judge had not allowed the complainant to be further cross-examined, Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported.

The court also ruled the trial judge had not properly directed the jury on the matter of how to consider allegations that the complainant had lied.

In 2021, Hayne was sentenced to five years and nine months in jail on the same charges but that conviction was overturned by the same appeals court in 2022.

A first trial over the alleged incident, which occurred in 2018, ended in a hung jury in 2020.

A fourth trial has been ordered, AAP reported, but it will be up to prosecutors to decide whether Hayne faces a court again.

Hayne played nearly 200 games for the National Rugby League's Parramatta Eels, winning the Dally M Medal, the competition's highest individual honour, in 2009 and 2014.

The Sydney-born fullback scored 11 tries in 11 appearances for Australia, helping the Kangaroos to win the Rugby LeagueWorld Cup in 2013.

He won a contract as a running back and kick returner with the 49ers in 2015 but was waived after playing only a few games.

Hayne was accused of sexual assault in a civil lawsuit brought by a woman in California in 2016 after police decided not to charge him over an alleged incident in 2015.

He said at the time he "unequivocally and vehemently" denied the allegations. The case was settled in 2019 before going before a court.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)

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