Jarryd Hayne released as judge makes telling call on whether ex-NRL star will face fourth trial

The former Parramatta Eels player has had his convictions quashed on appeal.

Former NRL star Jarryd Hayne will be released from custody after having his rape convictions again quashed on appeal as prosecutors weigh up whether he should face a fourth trial. The 36-year-old has spent a year behind bars after a jury convicted him of two counts of sexual intercourse without consent in April 2023 after an earlier guilty verdict was overturned in a separate appeal.

The NSW Court of Criminal Appeal quashed Hayne's convictions on Wednesday on the basis a judge erred in not allowing the complainant to be further cross-examined during the trial. The appeal court also ruled the trial judge did not properly direct the jury about how to consider allegations the complainant had lied.

Jarryd Hayne, pictured here being released from prison.
Jarryd Hayne has been released from prison after his convictions were quashed. Image: AAP

Hayne was granted bail unopposed early on Wednesday afternoon and the case is due to return to the state's district court in late July, when prosecutors can provide an update on how they will proceed. Hayne's third ground of appeal, arguing the now-quashed guilty verdicts were unsafe or unreasonable, was not upheld.

Justice Deborah Sweeney would have upheld that ground, but it was dismissed by the other two appeal judges, Justices Stephen Rothman and Anthony Meagher. "I am of the view there is a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted," Justice Sweeney said in the court's published reasons.

Justice Meagher did not support any grounds of the appeal. "I am comfortably of the opinion that it was open to the jury to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt (Hayne) was guilty," he said.

Jarryd Hayne, pictured here in action for the Parramatta Eels in 2014.
Jarryd Hayne in action for the Parramatta Eels in 2014. Image: Getty

A new trial has been ordered, which would be Hayne's fourth, but whether he faces another jury will be a matter for prosecutors. "I am of the view that in the circumstances of the history of this matter, to put the applicant on trial for a fourth time would not be in the interests of justice," Justice Sweeney said.

Justice Rothman said there was good reason for no fourth trial to take place, noting it was unlikely to occur before Hayne's non-parole period expired in May. A spokeswoman for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions said the appeal judgment was being considered. "Any decision about a possible retrial will be made in accordance with the prosecution guidelines," she said in a statement.

Hayne was accused of raping a woman with his hands and mouth at her Newcastle home on the night of the 2018 NRL grand final. Three separate criminal trials were told the woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, changed her mind about having sex with Hayne after realising he had a taxi waiting outside her house. He was jailed for four years and nine months with a non-parole period of three years in May 2023.

Jarryd Hayne, pictured here at the NSW District Court in 2023.
Jarryd Hayne at the NSW District Court in 2023. Image: Getty

His barrister, Tim Game SC, told an appeal hearing in April that the woman deleted messages between herself and Hayne that demonstrated she had initially shown a sexual interest in him. The ex-player's defence team also argued the woman should have been cross-examined on why she allegedly told police, "If those message get out, I'm f***ed and he will get off."

Judge Graham Turnbull, who oversaw Hayne's third trial in the NSW District Court, refused requests for the woman to be cross-examined on the statement, saying it carried "almost infinitesimal weight". But Justice Sweeney said the judge made the wrong decision.

"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," she said. Hayne's quashed convictions followed a hung jury in his first trial in 2020 and a previous appeal overturning the 2021 guilty verdict from his second trial.