NRL star Jack de Belin will not be tried on rape charges for a third time, with prosecutors set to withdraw the case on Friday.
The St George Illawarra forward, 30, and co-accused Callan Sinclair, 24, were facing the prospect of another trial later this year after trials in Sydney and Wollongong resulted in hung juries.
Ahead of a case mention on Friday, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions advised lawyers for the accused men that the charges will be withdrawn.
De Belin and Sinclair had pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting a then-19-year-old woman in a North Wollongong unit in December 2018, saying they had a consensual threesome.
The woman alleged she was attacked by de Belin and then cried as the men took turns assaulting her.
The Wollongong jury was discharged less than two days into its deliberations, having told the court it could “absolutely not” reach a verdict.
A Sydney jury, hearing the case in April and May, spent more than a week before it too became stuck on nearly all charges.
It acquitted de Belin and Sinclair of one charge each, relating to an incident de Belin had testified was accidental.
But no verdict was returned for the four other charges against each man, leading to the prospect of a third trial.
The footballer has not played since charges were laid in December 2018 under the NRL’s controversial no-fault stand-down policy.
He’s expected to be eligible to return for the Dragons from next week, pending approval from the NRL.
When charged, de Belin was on a contract worth almost $600,000 a year and expiring in 2020.
The 30-year-old signed a new four-year deal with Dragons at the end of 2020 when his previous contract expired, after also fielding interest from the Warriors.
Part of the terms of the upgraded contact mean while de Belin is unavailable to play the big-money component is not activated, and he is instead being paid about $1000 per week.