A key witness in the sexual assault trial of NRL star Jack de Belin has admitted in court he lied to police.
A man who lived at the unit where NRL star Jack de Belin allegedly raped a teenager alongside friend Callan Sinclair has admitted he lied to police about what he saw that night because he didn’t want to reveal the footballer was cheating on his girlfriend.
Troy Martin has told the men’s District Court trial he deliberately misled police by telling them he slept through the incident at the North Wollongong townhouse he shared with Mr de Belin’s cousin Jake Lewis.
He told the court he actually woke to “murmurs” inside the home before walking to Mr Lewis’s bedroom where he saw a nude Mr de Belin at the foot of a bed, the naked woman lying on her back and Mr Sinclair standing nearby fully clothed.
St George Illawarra Dragons forward Mr de Belin and Mr Sinclair stand accused of sexually assaulting the woman, then 19, after the trio met at Wollongong’s popular Mr Crown bar during a Christmas pub crawl in December 2018.
Their trial has been told of allegations from the woman that she felt “dead inside” and was crying as the men swapped positions forcing vaginal, oral and anal sex on her at a unit on Gipps Street.
Mr de Belin, 30, and Mr Sinclair, 23, have both pleaded not guilty to five counts of aggravated sexual assault and maintain the encounter with the woman was consensual.
On day six of their trial, witness Mr Martin was asked by Mr de Belin’s barrister David Campbell SC why he lied when interviewed by police on the night of the incident, with the court hearing officers had only told him they were investigating a “serious matter”.
“Once (I was) driving to the police station I realised I didn’t want to be involved in whatever happened … so I tried to say as little as possible to protect myself,” he said.
“And obviously seeing Jack and knowing that Jack had a partner, I really didn’t want to be the person who was going to tell everyone that he was cheating on his partner at the time.”
Earlier, Mr Martin told the court he woke at about 1.30am on December 9, 2018 to voices and realised they were coming from inside the home.
He walked down a flight of stairs and saw the trio through an open bedroom door when the woman said “who’s that?” before Mr de Belin closed the door, the court was told.
The trial has previously heard evidence from the woman that she denied seeing or hearing anyone else at the unit on the night of the incident.
Mr Martin said after looking inside the room for a few seconds he proceeded to a nearby bathroom when Mr de Belin popped his head around the corner of the bathroom door to say: “Sorry mate, just borrowing your house. Didn’t realise anyone was there.”
The court was told Mr Lewis was out of town on the night, and there was an arrangement at the Gipps Street home where family and friends were welcome to let themselves in via a garage door.
Mr Martin agreed when asked point blank by crown prosecutor David Scully if he had lied to police when he originally told them he woke briefly to some noises but went back to sleep without investigating.
Mr Scully also put to Mr Martin that his story about Mr de Belin leaving the bedroom to talk just as he was about to have sex with the woman was “complete fiction”.
“I suggest to you that you are deliberately lying to this jury about this whole scenario about Mr de Belin coming out of the bedroom naked and having a chat with you,” Mr Scully said.
Mr Martin replied: “I disagree.”
On Wednesday the jury was also played audio of evidence given by tuktuk driver Gary Port at the men’s previous trial in November that could not be concluded.
Mr Port said he picked up who he now knew to be Mr de Belin, Mr Sinclair and the woman at the end of Crown Street mall in the early hours of December 9, 2018.
He said Mr de Belin – who he referred to as the “gentleman with the Akubra” – repeated “You’ll have to trust me” when asked several times for a drop-off address.
Mr Port the lack of a clear answer caused him to “become alerted”.
The driver said Mr de Belin directed him to a steep hill that he refused to peddle up and the trio hopped out, with the footballer handing him a $50 note.
Mr Port said after hopping out of the tuktuk Mr de Belin said to the group “we’re going up the hill”, which drew protest from the woman.
“I heard the girl distinctly what she said … ‘like f**k are we’,” he said.
The court has heard evidence from the woman that she was reluctant to go inside the townhouse where she was allegedly raped. She claimed she only did so to use the toilet.
After being paid, Mr Port said he left straight away and at the time had no idea who Mr de Belin was: “wouldn’t have if I fell over him”.
He had a memory of the woman on the back flashing passing cars while on the journey but said he couldn’t be sure whether that incident occurred during a different fare.
The trial before Judge Nicole Noman continues.