Stood-down NRL player Jack De Belin will face trial on 2 November on sexual assault charges.

The St. George Illawarra Dragons player has been sidelined by the NRL’s no-fault stand down policy since being accused of raping a 19-year-old woman.

The 28-year-old former State of Origin lock faces five charges of aggravated sexual assault in company after the alleged incident involving a woman at a Wollongong unit in December 2018.

De Belin and his co-accused Callan Sinclair have pleaded not guilty to the alleged assault.

De Belin has not played for 18 months after the league introduced its hardline policy as a reaction to the game’s 2018-19 “summer from hell” which included a slew of players being charged with criminal offences and resulted in a stream of damaging headlines for the game.

De Belin, 29, is on a $595,000-a-year deal with the Dragons but is off-contract at the end of 2020. He has played 154 games for the club since his debut in 2011.

In Wollongong District Court on Friday, Judge Andrew Haesler finalised pre-trial matters to pave the way for the trial to start on 2 November.

He said in an explanatory note the start date of De Belin and Sinclair’s trials had been delayed by a pre-trial application of “some complexity”.

“The application required a considerable amount of oral and documentary evidence to be put before the court,” Judge Haesler said. “Some of that evidence related to matters over which an accused was entitled to claim legal professional privilege.

“Further, not all of that evidence is of direct relevance to issues a jury will have to consider and, as with most pre-trial legal applications, it cannot not be published until after the verdicts in the trial.”

The 12-person jury trial will be held at Wollongong District Court. De Belin remains on conditional bail.

source: theguardian.com

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