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Australian NRL star wins appeal in rape case

Australian NRL star wins appeal in rape case

Former Australian rugby league star Jarryd Hayne has won an appeal against his rape convictions and has been ordered to stand trial for a fourth time in the same case.

The 36-year-old was found guilty of sexual assault by a jury last year and sentenced to spend at least three years in jail.

He has consistently denied he attacked the woman – who cannot legally be named – in her bedroom, arguing the pair had consensual sex.

Mr Hayne was one of the most high-profile athletes in Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) and briefly played American football in the NFL.

During an 11-day trial last year, the 26-year-old woman told a New South Wales (NSW) court the pair had chatted on social media for two weeks before Mr Hayne stopped at her house in Newcastle – about two hours north of Sydney – after a bachelor party in September 2018.

She said Mr Hayne forced himself on her there, despite her saying “no” and “stop”, leaving her bleeding.

Mr Hayne’s appeal was heard in April by a panel of three judges from the state’s top court.

On Wednesday, two of the three ruled that the trial judge had erred in prohibiting cross-examination of the woman over certain text messages, which Mr Hayne’s legal team argued had implied her consent.

When delivering the verdict, Justice Stephen Rothman said that had amounted to a miscarriage of justice, ordering Mr Hayne’s convictions to be quashed.

“Whether there is in fact a further trial is a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions,” he added.

Last year’s trial was the third time Mr Hayne has stood accused over the same case. His first trial ended in a hung jury, and a guilty verdict in the second trial was overturned on appeal.

He has collectively spent almost two years in jail as the legal saga has unfolded, and his accuser has been forced to give evidence and face lengthy cross-examination multiple times.

Mr Hayne twice won the NRL’s player of the year award and played 11 Tests for Australia.

At the height of his NRL career, in 2015 he joined the NFL in the US with the San Francisco 49ers.

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