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NRL star Shaun Kenny-Dowall has been acquitted on all charges of domestic violence against his former partner Jessica Peris.
Kenny Dowall arrives at District Court
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Kenny Dowall arrives at District Court
RAW VISION: Sydney Roosters NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall arrives at the District Court in Sydney. Kenny-Dowall has been acquitted of all charges of domestic violence against his former partner Jessica Peris.
The Sydney Roosters stalwart cried in court on Monday as Downing Centre Local Court magistrate Greg Grogan found him not guilty of all 11 charges, which included allegations of assault, threats and destruction of property.
The magistrate found that Ms Peris was "not a reliable witness", and that her actions in contacting the Roosters NRL club to ask for financial assistance before speaking to police had been "extremely unusual".
Ms Peris, daughter of Olympian turned Northern Territory senator Nova Peris, gave evidence last week about 11 alleged incidents of violence over a nine-month period of their relationship in 2014 and 2015.
Kenny-Dowall had pleaded not guilty to all 11 charges, including headbutting his girlfriend, pushing her, pulling her hair, putting her in a headlock, destroying a mobile phone, grabbing her arm so tightly it left a bruise, kicking her out of bed and sending offensive text messages.
One of the charges related to a claim in October 2014 that Kenny-Dowall, when his mother asked about a bruise on Ms Peris' arm, sarcastically told her, "I bashed her."
Last week Kenny-Dowall said the various domestic allegations were "not true", "incorrect" and never occurred, but admitted possibly leaving a bruise on Ms Peris after she "attacked him" during a heated argument in 2014.
The court also heard that Ms Peris tried to get financial support from the Roosters NRL club before going to police with the violence allegations.
It was told the club offered shelter and a car for a month, but Ms Peris wanted accommodation and a car for six months, and one month's income.
"If a labourer or a lawyer or an apprentice were to have committed a domestic violence offence, would one expect the victim to approach the employers for such material support?" Mr Grogan said on Monday.
"I think not."
The magistrate was also scathing in his assessment of Ms Peris and her evidence, saying that she had appeared to be more concerned about making speeches from the witness box than giving an honest, straightforward account, and had framed her answers accordingly.
"The complainant was not an impressive witness," he said.
"The court had to warn her on countless occasions that she was not in the box to make statements.
"I assessed her answers to be calculated, evasive and intentionally framed."
Crucially, the magistrate found that there was a lack of evidence to corroborate Ms Peris' account, either in the form of contemporaneous photographs or comments to friends and family at the time of the alleged abuse.
At the same time, the magistrate accepted that Kenny-Dowall was a person of good character, which leant his denials more weight.
"Without any evidence of immediate complaint [about the abuse], without explanation in relation to the bruise on her arm ... and in light of her extremely unusual approach of going to the Roosters before the police ... we are left with nothing more than suspicion," he said
However, he also found that the couple's relationship had been characterised by language from both parties that was "rude, base and vulgar", expressed in 40,000 separate text messages.
"Each party gave as good as they got.
"The relationship appears to have been at times loving, at times volatile and at times surrounded by indifference," he said.
It was in this context that he accepted Kenny-Dowall's claim to have been acting in self-defence during one of the incidents in which Ms Peris claimed he bruised her arm by grabbing her.
"I find that the defendant in all the circumstances did have a reasonable belief that his actions in grabbing the complainant as she was attacking him trying to get her phone was necessary and I find that the response in all the circumstances was reasonable," Mr Grogan said.
Neither Ms Peris nor her mother was in court for the result on Monday.
Kenny-Dowall and Ms Peris first met at a Bali bar in 2012 and she moved to Sydney from Darwin in May 2014 to pursue the relationship, which ended little more than 12 months later.