Rugby star Kurtley Beale loses court battle to pay his legal fees

Rugby star Kurtley Beale has suffered a setback in court: his application for reimbursement of legal costs was rejected after he was found not guilty of sexual intercourse without consent and sexual touching.

Beale, 35, was acquitted by a New South Wales District Court jury in February of forcing a woman, who cannot be named, to perform oral sex on him in a toilet cubicle at the Beach Road Hotel in Bondi in December 2022.

His lawyers had argued that he should be awarded the costs because the woman's testimony was refuted by the surveillance footage from that night and he should therefore never have been prosecuted.

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Beale’s legal costs reportedly total “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Judge Graham Turnbull declined to rule in Beale's favour, saying there were “significant issues” that remained to be resolved in the case.

“It was not simply a case of words being spoken,” Judge Turnbull said on Friday.

Kurtley Beale
A court in the state of New South Wales rejected rugby star Kurtley Beale's request for reimbursement of legal costs following his acquittal. Credit: AAP

In denying Beale's motion, he took into account evidence presented at trial from telephone conversations between Beale and the plaintiff, on which the prosecution “relied heavily.”

Prosecutors had argued on an earlier occasion that comments Beale made in a recorded telephone conversation with the woman were sufficient to justify pursuing the case.

In contrast, Beale's legal team argued that the calls, including a “pretext” call made by the plaintiff and the police, demonstrated the plaintiff's “repeated and persistent” denial of any crime.

In his ruling on Friday, Judge Turnbull also examined whether the plaintiff's creditworthiness was significantly lacking and whether he had been “deliberately dishonest” with the police and in court.

This also includes the assessment of whether the plaintiff invented the story in order to “support” the fragile relationship with her fiancé and to give it “a certain degree” of stability.

On the issue of video surveillance, the judge said that there were “obvious deficiencies”. He pointed out that the footage did not show a queue in front of the ladies' toilet, as the plaintiff claimed.

“This contradicts the plaintiff’s reason for using the men’s toilet,” said Judge Turnbull.

– With Cameron Noakes