Jarryd Hayne request sparks fresh delay in rape trial

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read
Jarryd Hayne, pictured here leaving Newcastle Local Court in 2019.
Jarryd Hayne leaves Newcastle Local Court ahead of his sexual assault trial in 2019. (Photo by Peter Lorimer/Getty Images)

Former rugby league star Jarryd Hayne's rape trial - which had been due to start next month - has been postponed because he wants a jury to decide his fate.

Newcastle District Court Judge Roy Ellis on Thursday indicated the May 4 trial would have been able to proceed if it was before a judge alone, but Hayne wanted a jury trial.

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Judge Ellis said there would not be enough time to organise a jury panel for May 4.

He also suggested the current suspension on the use of juries during trials because of the coronavirus crisis would likely be lifted in the coming weeks.

Defence barrister Phillip Boulten SC told the court via video link from Sydney that Hayne's legal team had considered a judge-alone trial "very carefully", but the former NRL player indicated he would prefer a jury trial.

Mr Boulten said the Director of Public Prosecutions would have opposed a judge-alone trial anyway.

Hayne, 32, has pleaded not guilty to two charges of aggravated sexual assault involving a woman in NSW's Hunter Valley.

Judge Ellis agreed to vacate the May 4 trial date and ordered a new trial to begin on November 23.

Prosecutor Wayne Creasey SC said the Crown accepted the new trial date but indicated he would return to court to ask for it be changed again if the date was a problem for any witnesses.

Hayne, who was excused from attending court on Thursday, will not have to appear in person again until November 19 for the final callover of the case to confirm which judge will preside over the trial.

The trial is expected to take two weeks.

Judge Ellis agreed to a defence request to vary Hayne's bail so he no longer has to report to police once a week.

The case will next return to court on July 2 for pre-trial argument over a subpoena.

Jarryd Hayne, pictured here in action for the Parramatta Eels in 2018.
Jarryd Hayne in action for the Parramatta Eels in 2018. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

Rape claims against Jarryd Hayne

Hayne is accused of sexually assaulting a 26-year-old woman on September 30 in 2018 between 8pm and 10pm in Newcastle.

Court documents state Hayne had sex with the woman without her consent and "recklessly inflicted actual bodily harm".

He has been on bail since his arrest and was allowed to travel to Western Australia in July 2019 to attend a six-month missionary course at the Youth With A Mission centre.

The court previously heard Hayne planned to stay in a dormitory-style accommodation near the evangelical Christian centre's training campus with other men.

Hayne was required to attend lectures and not drink alcohol.

The aggravated rape charges each carry a maximum 20-year jail term if Hayne is convicted.