NRL star Jack de Belin will face a second sexual assault trial in Sydney next year, but he won’t face a jury before the start of the NRL season.
Mr de Belin, 29, and his co-accused Callan Sinclair, 23, are facing a District Court retrial after a jury was discharged this week after failing to reach a verdict.
The St George Illawarra forward and his friend were facing the possibility of a nine-month wait for a retrial because of the backlog of the cases in the Wollongong District Court.
Judge Andrew Haesler said on Wednesday the Wollongong District Court did not have the capacity to host a three-week trial until August next year; however, he said that was an unacceptable wait time.
The parties agreed on Wednesday during a mention of the matter to move the trial to Sydney’s Downing Centre for a three-week trial starting on April 12.
Mr de Belin and Mr Sinclair did not appear in court, with their lawyers appearing via audiovisual link.
The court heard Mr de Belin’s barrister David Campbell SC had asked for the second trial to be heard before a Wollongong jury.
Mr de Belin has missed the past two years of his NRL playing career after being stood down under the game’s “no fault” rule.
NRL star Jack de Belin will face a second sexual assault trial in February next year. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Simon BullardSource:News Corp Australia
It means that even if found not guilty in his retrial, he still will not be available to play until at least round nine of the 2021 NRL season.
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo has refused to make any changes to the game’s stand-down rule or allow Mr de Belin to play before the finalisation of his court matter.
Mr de Belin has been allowed to train and collect his $595,000 a year contract while stood down.
However his contract with the Dragons expired at the end of the 2020 season.
They agreed to a contract extension for the 2021 season however that deal was dependent upon the outcome of his court proceedings.
The Dragons released a statement this week saying they would not comment on his contract.
The jury in his first trial deliberated for a little under two days before telling Judge Haesler they were deadlocked.
Callan Sinclair has denied sexually assaulting a woman alongside Jack de Belin. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Simon BullardSource:News Corp Australia
The jury said it could not even come to an 11-1 majority verdict on any of the counts.
Mr de Belin and Mr Sinclair both pleaded not guilty and denied they sexually assaulted a then 19-year-old woman inside a North Wollongong apartment in December 2018.
The matter will be mentioned for a callover on April 1 next year before going to trial on April 12.
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