NRL star Jack de Belin told his cousin in a phone call intercepted by police he felt “sick” at learning a young woman had accused him of rape and the situation was “pretty f***ed”, a court has heard.
The St George Illawarra Dragons forward and his co-accused Callan Sinclair are standing trial at Downing Centre District Court accused of sexually assaulting the woman, then 19, after the trio met at Wollongong’s popular Mr Crown bar during a Christmas pub crawl in 2018.
Their trial has heard allegations from the woman that she felt “dead inside” and was crying as the men swapped positions forcing vaginal, oral and anal sex on her at a North Wollongong unit.
Jack de Belin denies claims he sexually assaulted a young woman following a night out in Wollongong in late 2018. Picture: NCA News Wire / Adam YipSource:News Corp Australia
Mr de Belin, 30, and Mr Sinclair, 23, have both pleaded not guilty to five counts of aggravated sexual assault and maintain the encounter with the woman in the early hours of December 9, 2018 was consensual.
On Tuesday the jury was played a series of phone calls made by Mr de Belin and Mr Sinclair in the days after the incident.
In them they express their disbelief at learning the woman had gone to police.
They also say they will “tell the truth”.
In a call intercepted on December 12 between Mr de Belin and his cousin Jake Lewis – in whose home the alleged sex assault occurred – the footballer said he had been advised by a lawyer not to make a police statement because they could “twist it” at trial.
“It’s pretty f***ed man, the whole situation,” the Mr de Belin said.
“We don’t actually know what she’s claiming … she’s gone in with a claim of rape or sexual assault or whatever the f**k she’s said.
“They’ve gotta get the DNA to say I was there but I’m not denying that. I’m saying we had consensual sex with her.”
Mr Lewis said the woman would have been captured on CCTV wilfully jumping the fence and going into his house.
“How does she f***ing think she has a case?” he asked in the call.
Mr de Belin replied: “I don’t know it makes me feel f***ing sick she would say that about me.
“Once the truth comes out … we’re not lying, we’re telling the truth.”
Callan Sinclair told his mum he couldn’t believe the woman’s claims. Picture: NCA News Wire / Adam YipSource:News Corp Australia
Mr de Belin said the worst part was having to tell his partner, who was pregnant at the time, about the woman’s claims.
“I had to tell her to come home from work and tell her I cheated on her and a girl’s made a false claim of sexual assault … watching her heart break and that was so f***ed, man.”
Mr de Belin was later recorded in a phone call that day with his sister Erica, who talks about their parents.
“They’re obviously pretty upset and angry with you,” she says.
“Understandable,” her brother replies.
Mr de Belin goes on to say the police were trying to mount a case against him, telling his sister “It’s just f***ing bullshit that this shit happened”.
“It was consensual sex,” he said. “She has not at one point said, ‘no, stop’. The only time was at the end of it she got a bit weird and said, ‘You’ve got a girlfriend’.
“She was changing positions, and there was another fella there with me.”
He said the incident was a wakeup call: “I suppose it’s just really given me a kick up the arse. And maybe go and see someone as well.”
The court heard Jack de Belin wanted to talk to police but was advised not to. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Joel CarrettSource:News Corp Australia
The next day, on December 13, 2018, police intercepted a phone call between Mr de Belin and Mr Sinclair, in which the NRL star said he was going to the police station with his lawyer.
“I’d rather just tell the truth, wouldn’t you?” Mr Sinclair says.
Mr de Belin agreed but said his lawyers had informed him not to make a formal statement.
“Best case scenario is they realise she’s like lying and realise she doesn’t have much of a case,” he says.
“If they do ask you for a statement just tell the truth … you know we didn’t f***n sexually assault her.”
Mr Sinclair replies: “I gotcha, don’t worry.”
After learning Mr de Belin had been charged, a stressed Mr Sinclair called his mother, to tell her he was also involved but hadn’t been contacted by police yet.
“On Saturday night … have you seen the news? Me and Jack, ended up going back to this unit with this girl … and like whatever, had sex with her, but she’s come out and saying that Jack raped her,” he said.
“It’s 100 per cent not true.”
He said the woman was “hanging around us like a bad smell all night” and he “just can’t f***ing believe” she had made the claims.
“They’ve obviously got her side of the story which is f***ing utter bullshit … we’ve got nothing to hide, we’ve done nothing wrong,” Mr Sinclair said.
“I wasn’t even worried about being charged or anything because it’s just f***ing not true. I don’t know if I’ve even been charged.”
Callan Sinclair’s called his mother to break the news. Picture: NCA News Wire / Adam YipSource:News Corp Australia
Mr Sinclair told his mum that afterwards the woman was joking around and “taking the piss” out of Mr de Belin as fans lined up for a photo outside Fever nightclub.
“There was no verbal or physical resistance … I just can’t believe it,” he said.
“If you just got raped by someone you wouldn’t go back out with them would ya?”
Earlier, Senior Constable Adams, who led the investigation until early 2020, was forced to tell the court he had “wilfully lied” in a previous hearing about what he read on Mr de Belin’s seized Nokia phone in late 2019.
The court heard he trawled through a file labelled “Craig lawyer” on December 22, 2019 and later directed colleagues to take pictures and record the details of messages in that file.
During a hearing in February 2020 he told a court the messages he accessed “appeared to be detailing Dragons business”.
Before the jury this week he was forced to admit that was a lie and that he told colleagues to follow up the information he had found as it “might produce good info” about potential witnesses.
“You well knew at the time it was forbidden fruits? That it was material you were not entitled to access?” Mr de Belin’s barrister David Campbell SC asked.
The officer replied, “Yes”.
The trial continues.
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