Jack de Belin breaks down in rape trial

Greta Stonehouse
·3-min read

NRL star Jack de Belin broke down in tears after his sister praised her empathetic, compassionate and spiritual "best friend" to a NSW court.

Erica de Belin, who gave evidence via video link from England, told the Wollongong District Court her brother was a "walking enigma" in that he is a "100 kg rugby league player" who does yoga, meditates, and practices daily gratitude.

She recalled a story of de Belin helping an old woman with arthritis by mowing her lawn, and how he would wait for her to finish work so they could ride their bicycles home together, ensuring she was safe.

"I think anybody who has spent any time with him knows how good a person he is," she said on Friday.

De Belin's lip was quivering during much of her evidence before he started crying and wiping away his tears with loud sniffles heard throughout the courtroom.

The 29-year-old, and his friend Callan Sinclair, 23, have pleaded not guilty to five charges of aggravated sexual assault in the bedroom of a North Wollongong unit in December.

The jury has previously heard the woman's account that the former NSW State of Origin player undressed her and forced himself on top of her, before Sinclair and he swapped positions multiple times.

She said she was constantly saying "no" with tears streaming down her face.

But in the witness box on Friday, Sinclair said the woman enjoyed their threesome, with her saying "yes" multiple times throughout the event.

"She was just normal and enjoying as we were".

While he was not planning on group sex that night, he became "keen" after watching de Belin approach the 19-year-old woman at Wollongong's Mr Crown bar before returning and saying "me, you, and (her name).... are you keen?".

"I understood that to mean, have sex," he said.

The group was laughing and dancing while he kissed her multiple times before she sat on his lap, flirting and touching inside his leg for most of the tuktuk ride towards de Belin's cousin's apartment, Sinclair said.

Under cross-examination in Wollongong's District Court on Friday, Sinclair could not recall any further discussions of a "threesome" but said she knew the group was not moving on to another nightclub.

He said after the alleged group sex the trio went to Fever nightclub and while waiting in line the woman "tapped me on the elbow" saying she had to go to work in the morning, to which he responded: "See ya later."

The Crown asked if this was at all unusual for her to quickly leave without a hug, but Sinclair couldn't recall.

Sinclair later told his mother in an intercepted phone call that she had been "hanging around like a bad smell".

He had been "shocked, confused, panicked" after first hearing of the allegations.

Brian Johnston, the former chief executive of de Belin's club St George Illawarra, also took the stand for de Belin, describing him as a talented footballer who was always willing to welcome new players from complex backgrounds.

"Jack had a natural ability to relax people in his company," he said.

He said de Belin showed people warmth, compassion, and was always encouraging, "even if competing for a similar position".

Johnston said he never received any reports of misbehaviour or incidents apart from this case, and noted that in nine years of playing professional league de Belin had never been sent off the field.

"One of the role models within our organisation,' he said.

The trial will resume on Monday.