The jury has reached a verdict on one of the charges against Jack de Belin and his friend Callan Sinclair – but the decision will be kept under wraps for now
A jury has sensationally found footballer Jack de Belin not guilty of a rape charge – but the St George Illawarra forward could still face another criminal trial.
In a stunning development, a Sydney jury was discharged after it failed to reach a decision on five further counts for both men.
The jury unanimously found both De Belin and his mate Callan Sinclair not guilty of a charge of sexual assault in company.
Prosecutors had alleged De Belin penetrated the 19-year-old alleged victim’s anus without consent at a North Wollongong unit in December 2018, while Sinclair was in the shower.
The jury was dismissed at 3pm after almost six full days of deliberations by Judge Nicole Noman.
The jury failed to reach a unanimous or majority 11-1 verdict on the remaining charges, the court hearing each juror was ‘resolute and firm’ in their verdict.
The case will return to court on May 28.
The development sets up the possibility of a further trial to resolve the charges – if prosecutors choose to pursue it.
A jury has reached a verdict on one of the rape charges in the trial of footballer Jack de Belin and his friend Callan Sinclair.
But their decision will remain under wraps for now as the 12 jurors are deadlocked on the remaining five charges.
District Court Judge Nicole Noman on Monday ordered the jury to keep trying to reach a verdict on the other charges.
The Sydney jury is in its sixth day of deliberations over sexual assault charges against the St George Illawarra forward, 30, and his friend Sinclair, 24.
Both pleaded not guilty to allegations that they sexually assaulted a young woman after a night out in Wollongong in December 2018, arguing that it was a consensual threesome.
In a note to the judge read in court on Monday, the jury said they have ‘been through a rigorous process of examining all of the evidence proferred in the trial’.
But while they reached a unanimous verdict on one charge – relating to an allegation de Belin anally raped the then-19-year-old woman while Sinclair was in an adjacent room – the jury did not believe it was possible to reach a verdict on the other charges.
However, Judge Noman said she wouldn’t accept the single verdict the jury had reached until the jurors reached a position on the remaining charges.
Callan Sinclair outside court last week. The amateur footballer is also facing a series of charges
‘I don’t propose to take your verdict in relation to Count Six at this stage,’ the judge said. The judge said past experience showed juries can often agree if given enough time to consider and discuss the issues.
‘But if, after calmly considering the evidence and listening to the opinions of other jurors, you cannot honestly agree with the conclusions of other jurors, you must give effect to your own view of the evidence,’ she said.
Over a 13-day trial, the jury heard claims that the teenager, who already knew Sinclair, met de Belin on the dancefloor during Wollongong’s Santa Public Crawl.
The court heard the trio then travelled to an apartment in North Wollongong. There, de Belin allegedly attacked the woman in the bedroom of the unit after using the bathroom, the jury was told.
The woman said she told the men to stop and then ‘just let it happen’, crying as the men ‘took turns’.
The men both testified the sexual encounter was consensual, with the woman acting ‘normal’ and appearing to enjoy it.
The St George Illawarra forward, 30, has been benched while facing the charges in court
At trial, prosecutors said the accused men’s evidence was ‘sprinkled’ with words and actions ‘to turn the narrative into a false picture of a consensual sexual encounter.’
‘They just went too far and it became inherently implausible,’ said prosecutor David Scully.
In closing submissions, de Belin’s lawyer dubbed the accuser ‘inherently unreliable’.
‘This woman is the sort of person who takes a grain of fact and then moulds it, changes it, distorts it and uses it to tell a tale,’ David Campbell SC told jurors more than a week ago.
Sinclair’s lawyer reminded the jury their decision should not be about sympathy, emotion or even whether the woman was lying.
‘Not guilty means you’re not satisfied the Crown has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt,’ Sharyn Hall said.
The deliberations continue at the Downing Centre District Court.