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Jury weighs verdicts in rugby star Beale's rape trial

Duncay Murray -

A jury is poised to decide the fate of Kurtley Beale, having been warned by a judge not to rely on stereotypes of victims when weighing up whether the rugby star raped a woman in a toilet cubicle.

The seven women and five men were sent out to consider their verdicts on Friday following a two week-trial that included CCTV footage of the night and a phone call in which Beale apologised to the woman.

Beale is facing one count of sexual intercourse without consent and two counts of sexual touching in the NSW District Court following an incident at Bondi's Beach Road Hotel in December 2022.

The woman, who cannot be legally identified, claims Beale touched her backside and forced her to perform oral sex in a toilet cubicle.

Beale has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

In directions by Judge Graham Turnbull on Friday morning, the jury was told to deliberate for as long as necessary to consider the facts of the case.

"You must be satisfied of the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt," he told them.

Beale did not give evidence in the trial, but Judge Turnbull told the jury not to draw any inference from that fact - or speculate on what might have been said if he had.

The jury was also told to accept that Beale was a person of good character, having not previously been accused of any crimes.

Differing accounts given by the woman to those close to her, as well as in police statements, were closely scrutinised during the trial.

Beale's lawyer, Margaret Cunneen SC, suggested she was "telling people what she thinks they should hear".

Judge Turnbull said people acted differently following sexual offences and urged the jury not to rely on stereotypes.

"Trauma may affect people differently," he said.

"You must avoid making assessments based on preconceived ideas about how people respond to non-consensual sexual activity."

The trial heard from the complainant and her fiance, as well as friends and family members to whom the woman divulged aspects of the alleged assault in the following days.

A recording of a phone call in which the woman confronted Beale with the allegation was also played to the court and dissected at length.

During the call, which Beale did not know was being recorded by police, the rugby player profusely apologised, telling the woman he "misread the whole situation".

Beale told the woman he thought "it was on" and expressed concerns she could damage his public profile by pursuing the matter further.

"I'm so sorry I made you feel like this," he said.

"I misjudged the whole situation. Now I'm f***ing nervous."

In a closing address on Thursday, Ms Cunneen argued Beale's apology was not an admission of guilt but further proof that he thought the woman had consented.

"Sorry doesn't mean 'I'm guilty'," the barrister told the jury.

"Sorry means, 'I'm sorry that you're feeling like that'."

Crown prosecutor Jeff Tunks said it was up to the jury whether they believed the woman's version of events, including that she repeatedly told Beale "no".

Mr Tunks invited jurors to find the woman was "staunchly consistent" in saying that she did not consent to any sexual activity with Beale.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028

Duncan Murray - AAP


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