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Kurt De Luis trial: Sordid claims at centre of rape case which has dragged in Parramatta Eels

A woman thought she was getting intimate with a man in a ‘pitch black’ bathroom when she was actually being sexually assaulted by a footy player, a court has heard. 

Up-and-coming rugby league player Kurt De Luis, 24, is on trial at the NSW District Court over claims he raped a woman in his western Sydney home.

The court has heard De Luis tried to have sex with the alleged victim’s friend, upstairs, in his housemate’s room in the early hours of Saturday, July 20, 2019.

But the jury has been told the aspiring NRL player couldn’t ‘finish’, promised the woman that he would return, and then went downstairs. 

There, in the bathroom, one-time Wentworthville Canterbury Cup prop Jacob Esau was allegedly kissing a young woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

There are major differences in the accounts of what happened next, with the jury to rule on allegations De Luis – who pleaded not guilty – sexually assaulted the woman in the bathroom.  

The entire alleged ordeal occurred at the Oatlands sharehouse where De Luis lived with Parramatta Eels star Reed Mahoney and netballer Jamie Lee-Price.  

In closing submissions on Friday, Crown prosecutor John Sfinas recounted the alleged victim’s version of events to the jury.

Mr Sfinas said that, according to the woman, Mr Esau had left the bathroom, apparently to retrieve a condom.

The Crown said De Luis then entered the bathroom, pulled the woman’s G-string to one side and assaulted her with his fingers.

But Mr Sfinas told the jury the young woman mistakenly believed at the time that it was Mr Esau performing the act upon her.

The prosecutor told the jury: ‘She thought it was Jacob, who had retrieved a condom.

‘She was thinking it was Jacob, when it was in fact, the accused.’

The prosecutor told the jury ‘it was pitch black, in a room she had never been before’ and that she had noticed De Luis had been more ‘rough’ with her than Mr Esau. 

The Crown said the alleged victim’s version of events goes that she got off the sink ‘to steady herself’ and that the light was switched on.

‘She felt a hug from her waist, from behind,’ Mr Sfinas said.

‘She turns and who does she see? Kurt De Luis.’

Mr Sfinas told the jury the woman claimed she asked the footballer: ‘What are you doing here?’ 

She alleged she was told: ‘Shhh, don’t worry about it’, the court heard.

The woman alleged De Luis attempted to assault her while she tried to put her pants back on, with the court hearing graphic detail of the encounter in Mr Sfinas’ retelling.

She claimed she repeatedly said ‘no’ to De Luis and asked him to stop, the jury heard.

In his own account, De Luis claimed a very different version of events. He said the woman had ‘smirked’ when he entered the room and said words to the effect of ‘you should have asked, cheeky’.

The Crown dismissed De Luis’s claims, saying ‘it lacked the air of reality’.

‘On (the alleged victim’s) version, there’s no smirk, there’s no, you cheeky boy,’ the prosecutor said.

‘It’s someone who was in pitch black darkness, is now disoriented, and is being pushed and prodded and pushed and prodded.’  

After the alleged assault, Mr Sfinas told the jury the woman allegedly ran out of the bathroom ‘almost immediately’. 

The prosecutor told the court that the alleged victim then confronted Mr Esau, saying ‘I thought it was you, I thought it was you.’ 

The court heard Eels player Reed Mahoney later told the alleged victim on the driveway: ‘You’re only upset because your mate caught you being a whore.’

Mr Sfinas said the woman didn’t shower afterwards and kept the clothing she had that night after the alleged incident. 

‘Are they the actions of a liar?’ he asked the jury. 

Mr Sfinas said the jury was open to find De Luis took no ‘reasonable steps’ to find out if the young woman had consented. 

However, the woman and Mr Esau’s version of events differed, he admitted, and the court has heard claims the lights were actually on at the time.

Mr Sfinas said the woman and Mr Esau’s accounts had some differences, but ‘those two versions can be reconciled’. 

‘It is no way requires straining to see there are threads of consistency between their stories,’ he said. 

Defence barrister Michael Smith told the jury the alleged victim hadn’t been ‘distressed’ about what happened until she was ‘sprung’ by the very friend De Luis had just had sex with upstairs. 

‘(The alleged victim) was not there in distress, at least not until she was sprung, sprung by her friend, who the complainant thinks is either upstairs or asleep,’ Mr Smith said.

The friend had barged into the bathroom while De Luis and the other woman were together, the court heard.

‘(De Luis) left the girl upstairs on the promise to return and was caught downstairs with a different one … literally in the act,’ Mr Smith said.

Meanwhile, the defence barrister argued that there were other holes in the Crown  case, claiming Mr Esau had seen De Luis and the woman ‘hooking up’.

Mr Smith also claimed that both De Luis and Mr Esau ‘independently (told) police there was a period of time when they were both in the bathroom together.’ 

He said that Mr Esau had even given evidence saying he closed the door ‘to give them privacy’, recalling how he was asked: ‘Why did you want to give them privacy?’ 

‘I don’t know, he said.’ 

Mr Smith said: ‘You do, you know why, because (you) saw them hooking up because the light was on.’  

The defence said the Crown case was that Esau had left a girl ‘he’d struck up some kind of connection with, in her undies, sitting on the bench in the dark.’

Mr Smith said other witnesses in the house had not heard the woman saying ‘no’ to De Luis and claimed it was ‘demonstrably absurd’ for there to be three people in the bathroom and the alleged victim not to know it.

The defence will finish its closing submissions on Monday.  

The judge will then sum up the case and the jury will consider its verdict. 

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