29 Feb 2016

Kenny-Dowall cleared of assault charges

4:05 pm on 29 February 2016

Kiwis and Sydney Roosters centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall has been cleared of domestic violence offences against his former partner Jessica Peris.

The Roosters NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall playing for the Kiwis.

Kiwis centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Magistrate Gregory Grogin handed down his verdict in Sydney's Downing Centre Local Court following a three-day trial last week.

Kenny-Dowall, a star centre for the Roosters, was charged with one count of assault occasioning bodily harm and six counts of common assault.

Kenny-Dowall had also faced charges of stalking and intimidation, using a carriage service to menace and harass, and malicious damage to Ms Peris's mobile phone.

The assaults were alleged to have occurred between October 2014 and June 2015.

He was found not guilty of all 11 charges.

But the magistrate found the couple had regularly engaged in mutually abusive text message exchanges.

The magistrate was highly critical of Ms Peris and said her evidence in court was "calculated, evasive and intentionally framed".

"I did not find her to be an entirely truthful witness," Magistrate Grogin said.

Ms Peris was not in court for the verdict.

Magistrate Grogin found Kenny-Dowall, who fought back tears in court as the verdict was delivered, was a man of good character.

The verdict came after Kenny-Dowall denied he had ever assaulted Ms Peris and testified that he believed violence against women was "completely unacceptable".

Ms Peris, the daughter of federal senator and Olympian Nova Peris, came under intense pressure in the witness box as her credibility was questioned by Ian Temby QC, the top barrister hired by Kenny-Dowall.

Mr Temby alleged in his closing submissions Ms Peris had filed the domestic violence complaint after being rebuffed by the Roosters rugby league club when she sought support following the break-up of her relationship with Kenny-Dowall.

It emerged during the hearing that Ms Peris had approached then-Roosters chief executive Brian Canavan, pleading with the club to take a stand on domestic violence and to support her with six months of accommodation and one month's income after the split with Kenny-Dowall.

Mr Grogin said he found it "highly unusual" that Ms Peris had initially complained to the Roosters rather than police and said it adversely affected her credibility.

The magistrate described the approach to the club as "opportunistic and deceitful".

The couple's intimate text message exchanges and family finances also came under intense scrutiny during the case, which heard details of Kenny-Dowall paying Ms Peris a salary for helping him set up a cafe with cash that Ms Peris alleged came from a brown paper bag of $100 notes.

Ms Peris attempted to give evidence about the brown paper bag of cash during the case, but was prevented by the magistrate, who declared the issue irrelevant.

Kenny-Dowall will now enter the 2016 rugby league season with his name cleared.

-ABC

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