Wallabies star Kurtley Beale has been found not guilty of allegations he sexually assaulted a woman in the bathroom of a Bondi bar after a gruelling two-week trial.
Beale, 35, faced a jury trial at Sydney’s Downing Centre Court after pleading not guilty to sexual intercourse without consent and two counts of sexual touching.
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The jury rejected claims that Beale groped the woman’s bottom at the Beach Road bar on December 17, 2022, before forcing her into oral sex in the men’s bathroom.
Barrister Margaret Cunneen SC claimed the 29-year-old woman had consented to and been “in control” of the encounter and had made the allegations to gain sympathy.
“I don’t shrink from suggesting she is a manipulative woman who curated circumstances of the night to turn the tables, to turn herself into a victim,” she said on Thursday.
She later added: “This is a woman who is a very good actress. She is manipulating (Beale), she is putting words in his mouth. Mr Beale doesn’t lie, he didn’t lie.”
In her closing address, Cunneen focused on one of the key aspects of the trial: a secretly recorded phone call during which Beale first learned of the accusations.
In the call, the woman told Beale she had not consented to the sexual act. At first, he said the pair “hooked up”, before admitting he had “f*****g misjudged the situation”.
Cunneen told the jury on Thursday Beale ‘s reading of the situation on the night – before the call – was that the sexual act in the bathroom stall was “all consensual”.
“He genuinely believed she had given and communicated consent … When she spoke something different (in the call), Mr Beale says he must have misread it,” she said.
Earlier, she said: “Of course there’s a guilty conscience, his wife knows what’s going on in the telephone call. If you are looking for a guilty conscience, of course you’ll find it.
“But, if a guilty conscience is about something done in marriage, that’s not ideal and is nothing to do with a guilty mind about a serious criminal offence”.
Critically, Cunneen said the call went to police not having proved one of the three elements of the offence, being that he would have known the woman did not consent.
The jury were also shown handwritten notes, which were made by the woman before the call, in which she wrote that its purpose was to “convince him he is guilty and not innocent”.
In her address, Cunneen dismissed the groping charge as being “blink and you miss it”, and said an alleged second act in the bathroom stall was “absurd” due to timing.
During her evidence, the woman vehemently denied Cunneen’s assertion she used the claims to gain sympathy from her fiance, with whom she’d had a serious argument.
Cunneen went on to add the woman was unable to concede disparities between her statements to police and admissions to her family, and the CCTV footage played court.
Notable in the defence case was the claim by the woman soon after the night that it was Beale that followed her into the bathroom. The video proved otherwise.
The footage, played in court, captured the boozy night at the popular Sydney bar, including the four minutes and 30 seconds Beale and the woman spent together in the bathroom.
The jury were told both her and Beale were intoxicated on the night, but were told by Crown prosecutor Jeff Tunks they were not allowed to consider it.
For his part, Tunks told the jury the woman had presented as a “defiant” witness who was “somewhat staunchly consistent in her assertions”.
Tunk had encouraged the jury to consider accepting parts of the woman’s evidence, without having to accept everything she said in court or to police and family.
The judgment marks the end of a gruelling multi-week trial for the jury, who deliberated for about one hour. They heard evidence from the woman, her fiance, her family and her fiancés family.
Importantly, it marks the end of one-year court saga for Beale after he was stood down from the NSW Waratahs by Rugby Australia after his arrest in January 2023.
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