A three-and-a-half hour time gap is under scrutiny as ex-NRL star Michael Jennings fights allegations he raped his former wife.
The former premiership winner is being sued in a civil court case by Kirra Michelle Wilden, who has alleged he abused and raped her “five or six times” during their relationship.
Mr Jennings has emphatically denied the allegations, has not been charged and police have confirmed they have no record of a sexual assault complaint having been made against him.
In Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court on Wednesday, Mr Jennings denied ever abusing Ms Wilden during their relationship from 2010 until their divorce in 2016.
In her statement of claim, Ms Wilden alleged that one of the sexual assaults occurred in their Kensington home in Sydney’s eastern suburbs in October 2014 after he came home drunk following a teammate’s wedding.
During the night, they exchanged a series of tense text messages in which they argued about his drinking, the court heard.
They culminated in her saying she was moving to a friend’s house the following day and calling him a “compulsive liar”.
The court has previously heard that his level of drinking was a source of frequent tension during their relationship.
Ms Wilden has alleged Mr Jennings arrived home some time between 2.30am and 3.30am and sexually assaulted her.
However, Mr Jennings maintains that he arrived home around 6am or 7am after staying out drinking all night.
“You know that she has alleged that you forced yourself on her and had sex with her against her consent sometime around 2.30am or 3.30am,” Ms Wilden’s barrister Jeremy Morris said.
But Mr Jennings maintained he returned home several hours later and slept on the couch.
“That’s my recollection and I’m certain of it,” Mr Jennings said.
In his evidence to the court on Wednesday, Mr Jennings claimed following the wedding at Luna Park, he went drinking at two clubs and the Star Casino before going home.
He admits he was heavily intoxicated, having started drinking around 4pm.
The court heard that Ms Wilden made a flurry of calls to Mr Jennings’ phone around 2am that went unanswered.
And Mr Morris pointed to a text in which Mr Jennings referred to coming home “when I saw your calls.”
He added that given Ms Wilden made a series of calls to his phone around 2am, he must have come soon after.
However, Mr Jennings said that despite writing in text messages that he left after her phone calls, he continued to stay out drinking.
“I didn’t leave then,” Mr Jennings told the court.
Under cross examination, he admitted swearing at her, but denied it ever descended into abuse.
Mr Morris pointed to texts read out in court in which Ms Wilden accused Mr Jennings of getting drunk, punching a car, setting fire to his legs and calling her a “f***ing c**t”.”
“Don’t call me a f***ing c**t and tell me I’m ruining your life and think it’s okay,” she said in the text message from 2013.
“Don’t message me.”
Mr Jennings replied via text at the time: “When did I say that?”
On Wednesday, Mr Morris said: “Can you think of a worse word in the English language to call someone? … Calling a woman a c**t is not only hurtful, it’s vile, it’s shameful.”
“It’s hurtful,” Mr Jennings said.
He said he couldn’t remember the conversation in which he was alleged to have made those statements and denied ever being abusive towards her.
“I’m not aggressive, I’m not an aggressive person,” Mr Jennings said.
Mr Jennings is not facing a criminal trial over the rape accusations and is being sued by his ex-wife in civil proceedings.
Ms Wilden is seeking damages for personal injuries and has also claimed that he subjected her to emotional and verbal abuse.
She first made the claim, that he raped her on several occasions between October 2014 and early 2016, when the couple were getting divorced in 2018.
In her statement of claim, she accused him of verbally abusing her and regularly drinking excessively and taking drugs.
On Tuesday, Mr Jennings admitted in court that he had taken cocaine while partying with mates and teammates during end-of-season Mad Monday celebrations in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Mr Jennings also revealed that he had received a first strike under the NRL’s illicit drugs policy after returning a positive result for cocaine in September 2016 following Mad Monday celebrations with Eels teammates.
In an unrelated drug matter, the former NSW and Australian centre was suspended by the NRL in October after returning a positive test for performance-enhancing substances Ibutamoren and Ligandrol.
In May, he agreed to walk away from the final 18 months of his contract, worth a reported $400,000 per year.