Taxi driver reveals what happened on the night of Jarryd Hayne sexual assault
When taxi driver Helen Morel arrived at a house in Newcastle on NRL grand final night in 2018, she was told she was going to be ferrying a very special customer – Jarryd Hayne.
Her reply was curt.
“Something like I don’t know who Jarryd Hayne is,” she told the NSW District Court.
Ms Morel was a key witness during Hayne’s seven-day trial that resulted in him being found guilty of two counts of sexual assault.
Hayne is facing up to 14 years in jail after the jury accepted that a then 26-year-old woman did not consent to him performing oral and digital sex on her inside her Fletcher home that she shared with her mother.
The 33-year-old former NRL star will face a sentence hearing in Newcastle in May but has said he intends to appeal the verdict.
The assault took place after Hayne stopped in at the woman’s house on the way back to Sydney after spending two days partying and drinking with mates at a buck’s party.
Ms Morel told the court of what happened when she picked him up at the New Lambton house, where the buck’s weekend was being staged, the 46 minutes she stood outside the home where the assault took place and the eventual cab ride to Sydney.
The presence of the taxi proved crucial, with the woman – who cannot be identified – insisting that she refused to give consent because he had a ride waiting to take him back to Sydney.
After receiving notification of the job through her company’s computer system, Ms Morel made her way to pick up Hayne and saw two men standing in the front yard.
One was Hayne and the other, the court was later told, was his former teammate Kane Evans.
“The first man (Evans) said, ‘How to much to get to Sydney’, and I said, ‘It’s about 600’,” Ms Morel told the court during her evidence.
“He said, ‘Uber will do it for $300’. I said, ‘Well go get an Uber, I can’t do it for less than that’.”
And so, a deal was struck for Hayne to pre-pay $550 on his credit card for the two-and-a-half hour trip.
Timing was crucial. It was around 9pm and Ms Morel needed to be back in Newcastle around 2.30am to hand over the cab to another driver.
Given it was a five-hour round trip, there was little wiggle room.
“The first man said, ‘Don’t worry, he’s got plenty of money, it’s Jarryd Hayne’,” Ms Morel said during her testimony.
“When I looked at the credit card it had Jarryd Hayne written on it.”
Asked by crown prosecutor Brian Costello of her response, Ms Morel replied: “Something like I don’t know who Jarryd Hayne is.”
And so they set out on their journey, with Hayne in the back seat, drinking a four-pack of Vodka Cruisers.
However, along the way Hayne asked her to make a stop off at a house in Fletcher and directed her using the GPS system on his phone.
He explained to her that he needed to pick up a bag and wouldn’t take long.
As Hayne walked into the house, he placed an empty bottle on the letterbox, Ms Morel told the court.
While she waited for Hayne, Ms Morel smoked a cigarette and sent a text message.
As time went on, she became increasingly impatient and wondered why Hayne had not emerged.
The complainant told the court that she was first alerted to the presence of the taxi when she heard Ms Morel beeping her horn.
Eventually, Ms Morel knocked on the door and spoke to the victim’s mother and asked to speak to Hayne.
Ms Morel was worried he was too drunk and wouldn’t be in a fit state to drive to Sydney, she told the court, and began speaking to her boss about whether it was possible to reverse the charges.
“I thought Jarryd was too drunk,” Ms Morel said.
“It’s happened to me quite a few times when people say ‘I’ll be back in a minute’ and they fall asleep on the lounge and someone says they’re not going.”
He came out to tell her that he would be back in a minute before she continued to talk to her boss.
However, despite her fears the trip would not take place, Hayne eventually returned and they continued on to Sydney.
Hayne was convicted after the court was told that when he returned to the woman’s room, he performed oral and digital sex on her despite her saying “stop” several times.
On the drive to Sydney, Hayne asked the driver to stop at a service station so he could purchase a phone charger.
She eventually dropped Hayne off in Alexandria, in inner Sydney, where he was due to attend a function.
“I said you took too long, you owe me another $50,” Ms Morel said.
“He put $50 in, he paid me and left.”