A jury has been urged to accept a woman’s “defiant” and “forthright” evidence as Wallabies star Kurtley Beale’s gruelling two-week sexual assault trial nears an end.
Mr Beale, 35, is facing a jury trial at Sydney’s Downing Centre Court after pleading not guilty to sexual intercourse without consent and two counts of sexual touching.
Police allege Mr Beale groped the woman’s bottom at the Beach Road bar in Bondi on December 17, 2022, before forcing her into oral sex in the stall of the men’s bathroom.
In his closing address, Crown prosecutor Jeff Tunks urged the jury to consider the 29-year-old’s version of events while not having to accept all her evidence in court.
“You might believe what a witness has said about one thing but not another or accept they are mistaken about one thing but not another,” Mr Tunks told the jury.
“You might think in the circumstances of giving evidence, in this setting, that she presented as a person trying to do her best to give an accurate, truthful version of events.
“If nothing else, you might think she was somewhat staunchly consistent in her assertions to you that she did not consent to any sexual activity with the accused.”
Mr Tunks described the woman, in her evidence and cross-examination, as having never made concessions about her alleged lack of consent and being “defiant”.
“I can’t think what might be put to you about her demeanour by Ms Cunneen, but at the very least she presented with a somewhat defiant tone,” Mr Tunks said.
“You might think she presented in cross-examination as a somewhat watchful and defiant witness. Perhaps, you might think, to the point of her being combative.”
Mr Tunks told the jury the onus would be on the Crown to prove Mr Beale knew she did not consent to sexual activity or had been reckless as to whether she did or not.
During his closing address, which began on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Tunks went through aspects of both the Crown and defence cases that arose in court.
The woman had been pressed under cross-examination as to the state of her relationship with her fiance, who was present on the night and gave evidence.
Following questions from Mr Beale’s lawyer, Margaret Cunneen SC, the woman refuted claims she’d used the allegations to gain “sympathy” from her partner.
For his part, the fiance admitted in court to having been curt in texts exchanged between the pair that day, telling Ms Cunneen he “was being an a**ehole”.
“If the basis for her to go and invite sexual dalliance with another male because ‘I’ll show him (the fiance)’, that is a matter for you,” Mr Tunks told the jury.
Mr Tunks also took the jury through the woman’s account of first meeting Mr Beale on the night when they discussed the rugby star’s wedding.
In her evidence, the woman claimed Mr Beale had been “desperate” and “forceful” when pleading for sex before barging in on her in the bathroom stall.
She told the jury that she repeatedly told Mr Beale “no” and that he “was married and I’m engaged”. The pair were seen on CCTV entering and leaving the bathroom.
For her part, Ms Cunneen has claimed in court the woman consented to and was “in control” of the alleged encounter in order to gain sympathy.
Through the course of the trial, the jury have heard evidence from a range of witnesses as well as a secretly recorded call in which Mr Beale admitted he “f**king misjudged the situation”.
The trial will continue on Wednesday, with further closing submissions from Mr Tunks.