Jarryd Hayne sentenced to jail for rape

Jarryd Hayne arrives at court in Newcastle ahead of his sentencing on Thursday morning. Picture: Simone De Peak
Jarryd Hayne arrives at court in Newcastle ahead of his sentencing on Thursday morning. Picture: Simone De Peak

FORMER NRL star Jarryd Hayne has been sentenced to five years and nine months in jail over the rape of a Newcastle woman who says the assault has "devastated" her.

District Court Judge Helen Syme handed down the sentence at 2.30pm in the Newcastle District Court where she said he would be eligible for release on parole on January 5, 2025.

The former NSW Blues representative was found guilty in March of two charges of sexual intercourse without consent on a 26-year-old at her home on NRL Grand Final night of 2018.

The charges were alternative counts after the District Court jury cleared the former Minto resident of two charges of aggravated sexual intercourse without consent inflicting actual bodily harm. The first trial, held in Newcastle, had resulted in a hung jury.

Earlier today his victim, whose name is subject to a non-publication order, read out a victim impact statement to a court room packed with Hayne's family, friends and supporters.

She said the attack left her in a state of depression, unable to eat properly and not able to work or study.

She said she had ongoing flashbacks and was "still experiencing the devastation".

"I felt dirty and violated. He made me feel like an object and was looking straight through me," she told the court. I sat on my bed, hugging my knees, staring into nothing. I trusted him based on who I thought he was, and he definitely was not [that person]."

The woman also spoke of the trauma of going through the trial and re-trial. The assault changed her, she said, "it changed my direction and who I was".

"What I experienced was horrible ... I'm destroyed and damaged but still standing," she said. "You don't owe someone your body, nor should they expect it. It's now my time to heal. I've survived this and I've protected a tiny spark of my life."

Defence barrister Richard Pontello, SC, argued that the extra-curial punishment Hayne experienced should be taken into account in his sentencing - including photos published in the press and a loss of employment as a rugby league player.

Hayne told the court he was on the verge of signing with the St George Illawarra Dragons for a $500,000 one-year contract when he was charged and the deal disappeared.

"Because of the media involved, the kind of frenzy that went with the charges, I didn't hear anything after that," he said.

When asked by Crown Prosecutor Brian Costello whether he could have anticipated that being charged with a criminal offence could affect the availability of an NRL contract, Hayne said: "I didn't do it".

"The law says you're innocent until proven guilty and I was never afforded that," Hayne said.

Former Parramatta Eels player Tim Mannah provided a reference to the court on behalf of Hayne, focusing on his ex-teammate's Christian beliefs and lifestyle.

He said Hayne returned from the 2008 Rugby League World Cup a "changed man" after spending time with Christian footballers and linking with the Hillsong Church.

Mannah told the court that Hayne had been "a part-time Christian" when he returned from his time trying to start a career in the NFL in the USA in 2016.

But Mannah said there had been a "definite big shift" towards Christianity in Hayne.

March's guilty verdict came at the end of a retrial after an initial trial at Newcastle in late 2020 resulted in a hung jury.

Judge Helen Syme is expected to sentence Hayne at 2.30pm.