Jarryd Hayne’s Successful Appeal Against Conviction
Former NRL Superstar Jarryd Hayne has been released on bail after having his convictions for sexual assault set aside.
Any person convicted of a criminal offence has an opportunity to appeal the conviction. Appeals against criminal convictions are usually based upon errors of law that are made by the trial judge, such as misdirecting the jury. Sometimes the appeal might be based on an unsafe or unsatisfactory verdict that cannot be supported by the evidence adduced at the trial.
The NSW Criminal Court of Appeal upheld two arguments from Mr Hayne's lawyers: that the trial judge had erred in her directions to the jury and that the evidence of the complainant was inconsistent. Hayne’s lawyers had also submitted that an outburst from the complainant witness in court when she yelled 'no means no' under cross-examination, was prejudicial.
Mr Hayne’s lawyers sought a full acquittal. While the Criminal Court of Appeal has the power to quash an appellant’s convictions completely and discharge the appellant, the court in Hayne’s case has ordered a retrial.
Mr Hayne has now been granted bail. He is subject to strict bail conditions, including reporting to police three times a week, not to contact any witness, to hand over his passport and to not be within 500 metres of any international port of departure.
At the end of a trial involving a judge and jury, after all the evidence has been presented, and after the prosecution and defence have given their closing arguments, the judge gives a 'charge' to the jury.
The judge’s 'charge' involves the judge addressing the jury about the evidence and the arguments made by both sides, directions on how to apply the law to the facts of the case and the legal principles that must be applied by the jury when it goes about its deliberations. It also involves the judge instructing the jury about the fundamental principles of our criminal justice system: the presumption of innocence, the burden of proof and the standard of proof that the prosecution must meet.
Jury directions are necessary to ensure a fair trial. Juries need to understand the judge’s directions to reduce the likelihood of a miscarriage of justice, which may result in an innocent person being convicted.
The convictions that were successfully appealed
Hayne was convicted and sentenced to five years and nine months imprisonment after a jury found him guilty of two counts of sexual intercourse without consent last year. It was the second trial. The first trial had resulted in a hung jury earlier in 2021.
It was not in dispute that Hayne met up with the alleged victim on NRL grand final night in September 2018. The prosecution alleged that Hayne engaged in sexual acts with the complainant without her consent and injured the complainant in the process. Hayne has maintained his innocence. The defence’s position is that the sex was consensual and the woman’s injuries were sustained accidentally.
Sexual penetration without consent
Under Western Australian law sexual penetration without consent is a serious criminal offence which carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 14 years.
Under the WA Criminal Code 1913, to sexually penetrate means —
(a) to penetrate the vagina (which term includes the labia majora), the anus, or the urethra of any person with —
(i) any part of the body of another person; or
(ii) an object manipulated by another person, except where the penetration is carried out for proper medical purposes; or
(b) to manipulate any part of the body of another person so as to cause penetration of the vagina (which term includes the labia majora), the anus, or the urethra of the offender by part of the other person’s body; or
(c) to introduce any part of the penis of a person into the mouth of another person; or
(d) to engage in cunnilingus or fellatio; or
(e) to continue sexual penetration as defined in paragraph (a), (b), (c) or (d).
Consent means affirmation or agreement for the sexual act to proceed has been freely and voluntarily given and, without in any way affecting the meaning attributable to those words, a consent is not freely and voluntarily given if it is obtained by force, threat, intimidation, deceit, or any fraudulent means.
Mr Hayne’s alleged victim has lodged a civil claim in the New South Wales Supreme Court, but that is unlikely to proceed until there is a disposition to the criminal proceedings.
It is not the first civil claim against Mr Hayne. In 2017 a woman commenced civil proceedings in the US for a sexual assault which was alleged to have occurred at his apartment in California in 2015 after meeting her at a bar during a period that Hayne was playing football for the San Francisco 49ers.
The matter was eventually resolved out of court and the law suit was dismissed. Criminal charges were never brought against Mr Hayne over the incident because it was determined there was insufficient evidence to pursue a criminal prosecution.
PLEASE NOTE: The material in this blog post is for informational use only and should not be construed as legal advice. For answers to your questions regarding this or other topics, please contact a professional legal representative.