Dark secrets of NRL star Michael Jennings' marriage laid bare in court

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As Michael Jennings and Kirra Wilden strolled down the red carpet at the Dally M Awards at Sydney’s Star Casino in 2013, they looked like a model couple living a life thousands could only dream of.

Jennings at the time was at the height of his powers – days later he would play a matchwinning hand in the Sydney Roosters’ grand final win over Manly, he was a NSW and Australian representative and considered one of the premier centres in the NRL.

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She was his glamorous girlfriend, having met in 2010 before they officially began dating while he was in State of Origin camp later that year.

But behind the beaming smiles, designer dresses, the accolades and fame, there was a dark underbelly to their relationship that was laid bare during their bitter court battle.

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Dark secrets of NRL star Michael Jennings’ marriage laid bare in court

Camera IconMichael Jennings and Kirra Wilden on the red carpet at the Dally M Awards in 2013. Credit: News Limited, Gregg Porteous

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Ms Wilden sued her ex-husband in the NSW District Court, alleging that during their six-year relationship she was sexually assaulted and verbally abused.

Mr Jennings, 33, has denied all allegations that he sexually assaulted his former partner.

She also made damaging accusations that he would drink excessively, gamble heavily and use cocaine.

Following a 10-day trial throughout the middle of the year, District Court Judge David Wilson earlier this week ruled in Ms Wilden’s favour.

He ordered that she be paid more than $490,000 in damages after claiming that she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the alleged sexual assaults.

Judge Wilson also ordered that his judgment and a transcript of proceedings be forwarded to the NSW Police for Ms Wilden’s allegations to be investigated.


Text messages tendered to the court during the proceedings showed that by December 2013 their relationship was already strained.

During one exchange, Ms Wilden told her then partner that she was refusing to attend a New Year’s Eve party because the evening prior he had volleyed a series of expletives and insults at her while drunk, punched her car and attempted to break up with her.

“Don’t call me a f—ing c–t and tell me ruining your life and think it’s ok alright please don’t message me,” she said in the message at 1.20pm.

“When did I say that?” Mr Jennings said in reply.

“Last night I’m over it I’m not putting up with it anymore,” she said.

“You were acting crazy, punching the car and burning your leg hair off im … Not putting up with it.”

The couple were married in October 2015 but by May 2016 Ms Wilden had left their marital home.

Dark secrets of NRL star Michael Jennings’ marriage laid bare in court

Camera IconEx-NRL player Michael Jennings was this week ordered to pay his wife nearly $500,000. NCA NewsWire/Gaye Gerard Credit: News Corp Australia

She alleged that from October 2014 to May 2016 she was sexually assaulted four times while she was his fiancee and wife.

According to Ms Wilden’s evidence, the first three assaults all occurred in similar circumstances after Mr Jennings had arrived home drunk in the early hours.

She alleged that on those three occasions she said “no” or “stop”, that he called her a “slut” and accused her of sleeping with other men before having sex with her without her consent.

Ms Wilden told the court that the first incident occurred at their Kensington apartment in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

He arrived home sometime between 2am and 4am and she found him on his hands and knees banging on the front door, according to her evidence.

She described how he pulled down her underwear, laid on top of her and sexually assaulted her.

“I was telling him ‘no’ that I don’t want to have sex with him,” Ms Wilden said in her evidence.

“He said, ‘Why? Because you’re sleeping with other people? With other guys?’ His words.”

Dark secrets of NRL star Michael Jennings’ marriage laid bare in court

Camera IconKirra Michelle Wilden alleged that she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after being sexually assaulted during her relationship with Michael Jennings. NCA NewsWire/Gaye Gerard Credit: News Corp Australia

Mr Jennings denies any of the alleged sexual assaults took place and said on that occasion he went to the casino after attending a wedding and arrived home about 7am and let himself in using his own key.

She alleged that further assaults occurred at the same unit in Kensington, another residence at Bella Vista in 2015 and at their property at The Ponds in 2016.

She said of the third alleged assault: “I just remember laying there and feeling, like, dead.

“I didn’t feel it. I just, no feeling but blank. Like I was actually dead. Like my soul had left my body.”

Ms Wilden said she woke the next morning to find that Mr Jennings had wet the bed and ruined her new quilt.

Mr Jennings said during his testimony that he would not “try and force myself onto her”.

His lawyer also told the court that she did not believe the allegations could meet the criminal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.

Mr Jennings did, however, admit to using recreational drugs during his playing career.

His time in the NRL is almost certainly over after he was in October handed a three-year suspension by the NRL after testing positive to banned performance-enhancing substances Ibutamoren and Ligandrol.

During the proceedings, Ms Wilden claimed that she would find small plastic satchels containing white powder in Mr Jennings’ washing.

After being given a certificate by Judge Wilson protecting him from prosecution in relation to his drug use, Mr Jennings admitted that he used cocaine during Mad Monday celebrations in 2013 (following the Roosters’ premiership win), 2014, 2015 and after his move to Parramatta in 2016.

Asked who had supplied the cocaine, he said: “I guess it was just at the party that we were celebrating at.

“It would be one of my mate’s friends.”

Dark secrets of NRL star Michael Jennings’ marriage laid bare in court

Camera IconMichael Jennings has admitted to taking cocaine after the Sydney Roosters’ NRL premiership win. Gregg Porteous Credit: News Limited

Ms Wilden told the court that at the time of the alleged incidents, she did not believe she had been raped, stating she thought it was her “duty” to have sex with Mr Jennings.

She eventually disclosed the allegations to a partner – who she began seeing following their separation – a psychologist and a lawyer.

“It is plain that Ms Wilden has suffered enormous insult, humiliation, embarrassment and shame by the conduct of Mr Jennings and that ought to be reflected in an award of damages,” Judge Wilson said.

“I accept the evidence of Ms Wilden as to how she felt following each of the acts and generally since they occurred.”

Ms Wilden was awarded $490,091 in damages, which included $200,000 in general damages, $51,250 for future treatment and $100,000 for economic loss.

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