Australian rugby star Kurtley Beale has been found not guilty of sexually assaulting a woman he met at a Bondi pub.
A NSW District Court jury on Friday cleared Beale, 35, of one count of sexual intercourse without consent and two counts of sexual touching.
The jury took only an hour to reach its verdict over the alleged incident, which she claimed occurred in December 2022 at the Beach Road Hotel in Sydney’s east.
Beale was spotted wiping away tears and hugging his supporters after the verdict was handed down.
‘I’ve always maintained my innocence,” he said.
“My family and I have suffered a terrible year, and I’m so glad that the truth has come out.”
It also comes as Beale’s accuser was expected to wed her partner on Friday.
At the trial, Beale’s 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 from her fiancé.
Kurtley Beale has been found not guilty of one count of sexual intercourse without consent and two counts of sexual touching in the NSW District Court
Beale has always maintained the encounter at the Beach Rd Hotel in Bondi was consensual
‘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 (Mr Beale), she is putting words in his mouth. Mr Beale doesn’t lie, he didn’t lie.’
In her closing address, Ms Cunneen focused on one of the key aspects of the trial: a secretly recorded phone call during which Mr Beale first learned of the accusations.
In the call, the woman told Mr 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’.
Ms Cunneen told the jury on Thursday Mr 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’.
Beale’s barrister – Margaret Cunneen SC told the court the alleged victim was the instigator (Beale is pictured, with wife Maddi)
Beale was a schoolboy prodigy who went onto represent Australia at three World Cups
Beale’s barriester Margaret Cunneen SC (left) – told the court her client ‘will be making an application for costs’
Critically, Ms Cunneen said the call went to police not having proved one of 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, Ms 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 Ms Cunneen’s assertion she used the claims to gain sympathy from her fiancé, with whom she’d had a serious argument.
Ms 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 Mr 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 Mr Beale and the woman spent together in the bathroom.
The jury were told both her and Mr Beale were intoxicated on the night, but were told by Mr Tunks they were not allowed to consider it.
For his part, Crown prosecutor Jeff Tunks told the jury the woman had presented as a ‘defiant’ witness who was ‘somewhat staunchly consistent in her assertions’.
Beale’s sporting future is unknown – he was stood down by Rugby Australia after he was charged in January last year
Mr 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.
It also marks the end of one-year court saga for Mr Beale, after he was stood down from the NSW Waratahs by Rugby Australia following his arrest in January of 2023.
Beale’s wife broke down in tears upon the verdicts – and the footy star’s barrister – Margaret Cunneen SC – told the court her client ‘will be making an application for costs.’