Rugby League

Shaun Kenny-Dowall put ex-partner Jessica Peris in headlock, court hears

Sydney Roosters centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall returned home from a club function and sprayed a vodka alcopop over his former girlfriend during a late-night argument, a court has been told.

The NRL star has pleaded not guilty to a string of domestic violence offences against his former girlfriend Jessica Peris, including assault, stalking, intimidation, destroying property and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

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Shaun Kenny-Dowall faces court

The court was told on Thursday that the NRL star, accused of 11 charges relating to domestic violence, allegedly used a headlock on ex-partner Jessica Peris during a domestic dispute in 2015. Vision courtesy Ten News.

Ms Peris' mother, the Olympian turned Northern Territory politician Nova Peris, was in the Sydney District Court on Wednesday as 11 charges were detailed for the first time.

The allegations include that Kenny-Dowall, 27, pushed his girlfriend, pulled her hair, put her in a headlock, destroyed a mobile phone, grabbed her arm so tightly it left a bruise, kicked her out of bed and sent offensive text messages.

Shaun Kenny-Dowall is accused of assaulting his former girlfriend Jessica Peris.
Shaun Kenny-Dowall is accused of assaulting his former girlfriend Jessica Peris. Photo: Peter Rae

The alleged offences occurred at various times during late 2014 and early 2015 but Ms Peris only reported them to police when the relationship ended last year.

Prosecutor Amin Assaad told the court that, following a Roosters function on May 16, 2015, Kenny-Dowall returned home to the couple's eastern suburbs apartment, took a Vodka Cruiser from Ms Peris, opened it, consumed some of it, then "threw or sprayed some of it" on her.


Kenny-Dowall's barrister, Ian Temby, QC, said his client did not dispute that some of the drink ended up on his girlfriend but said it happened in the "course of him gesturing in the course of a domestic argument".

The contents were not deliberately hurled at her, he said.

Kenny-Dowall has also admitted to punching a photo of a quote on the wall of their Coogee apartment in October 2014, leaving him with visible injuries to his hand.

However, he will dispute allegations that Ms Peris' head was centimetres away from the photo.

Police will allege Kenny-Dowall also pushed her in the hallway of their apartment, kicked her out of bed on up to five occasions, pushed her for coming home drunk one night and held a clenched fist close to her head.

On June 15, 2015, he allegedly took her into a headlock and then pulled her hair.

More than 40,000 text messages sent between the pair over a 10-month period, constituting about 150 messages sent each day, have been tendered for the three-day hearing.

Some of the messages revealed that Ms Peris occasionally used cocaine, Detective Senior Sergeant Laney Martyr told the court.

Kenny-Dowall's defence team will argue that none of the messages contained any mention of domestic violence.

In one message in March 2015, after some of the alleged incidents, Kenny-Dowall asked his girlfriend, "tell me [what] I have done Jess, what do I do wrong in this relationship?"

She replied that he needed to make an effort and help her become more confident and motivated for her athletics training.

"There is no mention of violence towards her," Mr Temby told the court.

Kenny-Dowall pleaded not guilty to the charges in August, two weeks after he was admitted to hospital following concerns about his mental health.

The member of the Roosters' 2013 NRL title-winning team missed three club games after being charged but has since returned to the field.

The hearing continues.