De Belin jury hung for second time
Jack de Belin faces the prospect of a third trial over rape allegations after a Sydney jury returned hung verdicts to most charges.
The St George Illawarra forward, 30, and Callan Sinclair, 24, have each pleaded not guilty to five counts alleging they sexually assaulted a woman in a North Wollongong unit in December 2018.
After a week of deliberations in the men's second trial, the Sydney District Court jury on Monday acquitted the men of one charge related to an allegation of anal rape.
But it was unable to return unanimous or 11-to-1 verdicts on the other four charges against each accused, the jury foreperson said.
Judge Nicole Noman discharged the jury about 3pm, having sent them off last Monday morning to begin deliberations.
The men were tried in November in Wollongong, where the jury was discharged without returning any verdicts.
De Belin is accused of attacking a woman, then aged 19, in the bedroom of a North Wollongong unit.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the jury the men ignored her protests before she cried and just "let it happen" as each man "took turns".
The men both testified the sexual encounter was consensual, with the woman acting "normal" and appearing to enjoy it.
Each was charged over five alleged acts during the episode.
The fifth charge against each man related to an allegation de Belin anally raped the woman while Sinclair was in the bedroom ensuite.
The prosecutor accepted de Belin's action was brief but intentional, while the footballer testified it was an accident and that he had apologised immediately.
Judge Noman said she understood how a verdict was returned to that pair of charges despite a stalemate on all others.
A jury note had informed her that each juror was "firm and resolute" in their verdicts to each of the remaining charges.
She thanked the jury for their "keen interest in the trial and obvious dedication".
"The notes you have written reflect you've acted entirely consistent with your oath and affirmations," the judge said.
The matter is due to be mentioned before the same judge on May 28, when prosecutors will reveal if they will push ahead with a third trial.
De Belin did not respond to reporters' questions as he left the court complex.
The former NSW State of Origin lock has been unable to play rugby league since early 2019 under the NRL's no-fault stand-down policy for footballers before the courts on serious criminal charges.
He remains subject to that policy, the Dragons confirmed on Monday.
"The next steps concerning all facets of the matter are yet to be established," a club spokesperson said.
"The Dragons will continue to provide the necessary welfare support to de Belin and his family."
Before being charged, de Belin had played 154 matches for the Dragons and lined up at lock in NSW's triumphant 2018 State of Origin team.
He remains connected to the Wollongong-based club, having agreed in principle to a contract should his court matter conclude.
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