Hours drinking before alleged rape

Warning: Graphic

A friend of NRL star Jack de Belin and Callan Sinclair has told a court he saw a young woman dancing, sharing a “pash” with one of the men and “just having fun” at a nightclub before they allegedly raped her at a nearby unit.

The St George Illawarra Dragons forward 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 District Court 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 north Wollongong unit.

Jack de Belin arrives at court on Tuesday. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Joel CarrettSource:News Corp Australia

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 the fifth day of their trial, witness Matthew Clune was called to give evidence before the jury.

Mr Clune told the court he had been drinking with Mr Sinclair and Mr de Belin at the home of then-Dragons centre Euan Aitken from around 2pm on December 8, 2018.

They downed several drinks before later in the afternoon moving to the North Wollongong Hotel, where he said they remained for “four to five hours” drinking continuously.

The court was told he later attended Mr Crown nightclub – where the woman came up to greet him on the upstairs dancefloor – with Mr de Belin, Mr Sinclair and fellow mate Jai Field.

The court was told Mr de Belin and Callan Sinclair (pictured) had spent the day drinking at a friend’s house. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Joel CarrettSource:News Corp Australia

Mr Clune told the court he knew the woman socially and she hung around with his friends from that point, including Mr de Belin and Mr Sinclair.

“She was dancing around just having fun with the group that was there,” he said.

“I kept coming and going so I can’t say if she was there the whole time.

“I was just walking around the club … mingling.”

Crown prosecutor David Scully asked Mr Clune if he saw any physical interactions between the woman, who can’t be named, and Mr Sinclair at the club.

“I seen them dancing together and I seen them share a kiss,” he replied.

“I caught like a pash and I just looked away. I just seen a few seconds max. I wasn’t staring at them or anything like that.”

Mr Clune was asked whether he saw any other touching between the two on the dancefloor and recalled seeing the woman and Mr Sinclair holding hands as they danced together.

“All I could describe is just a fun type of dance you see when you’re out in town … just having fun,” he said.

Jack de Belin playing for the Dragons in 2018. Picture: AAP Image/Darren PatemanSource:AAP

In her evidence the woman told the court she always believed she was going to nearby Fever nightclub with the group after leaving Mr Crown, claiming Mr de Belin and Mr Sinclair misled her by saying they needed to go home first to “charge their phones” after hailing a tuktuk.

She denied suggestions from Mr de Belin’s barrister David Campbell SC that she always knew they were going to the unit, and not Fever, even before she hopped in the tuktuk early on December 9, 2018.

On Tuesday, Mr Clune told the court he had planned with Mr Field during the day to attend Fever together but claimed he never discussed the idea with Mr de Belin or Mr Sinclair.

He said he went with the woman, Mr de Belin and Mr Sinclair to a cab rank, where he chatted to Mr de Belin but claimed he never asked them where they were heading.

“I knew I was going to Fever, I didn’t know what those two were doing,” he said.

The trial continues before Judge Nicole Noman.

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