The ex-wife of a top NRL star has burst into tears as she spoke of her “duty as a mother” and how she was “mortified” her children had found pornographic pictures and videos of her ex and his new partner on an iPad.
The woman faced Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court for the second day on Friday where she is fighting charges of distributing and recording revenge porn featuring her NRL ex-husband.
The court heard the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, became aware of the pornographic pictures and videos when her children and two of their friends located them on an iPad in October last year.
She continued giving evidence on Friday, where she told the court she found “various images and videos of sexual intercourse”, including the NRL star “digitally penetrating” his new partner and “various sexual positions” on the iPad.
“I saw them touching each other naked inappropriately … what I see as children witnessing inappropriate content,” the woman said.
“Then I saw a lot of domestic violence … a very concerning amount.”
On Thursday, the woman told the court she was making breakfast for the four children when she saw them huddled together looking at an iPad.
She said she heard the children “oh-ing and ah-ing”, while one made comments such as “oh my God that’s so inappropriate”.
The woman said a friend of her young child then came to her and showed her the iPad, which she explained was her son’s and usually used at her ex-husband’s house.
A picture on the iPad showed her ex-husband’s new partner “naked” with her “breasts showing”, posing “in a way that was covering” her genitalia, the court was told.
Under cross-examination by police prosecutor Craig Pullen on Friday, the woman broke down in tears and she was questioned on whether the photos were her property.
“It’s not my property but when it comes to my house and my two very young children are witnessing pornographic imagery and domestic violence,” the woman said through tears.
“I have a duty as a mother, and with other children in my care, to protect (them).”
She told the court she was “mortified” when she first saw the photo in the hands of a child.
The court was told the woman also found pictures which showcased alleged violence between her ex-husband and his new partner.
Photos tendered to the court which were taken by the woman off the iPad show the new partner with a red, swollen face and bruised eye, the court was told.
The woman told the court she took the photos as she held concerns about what her children may be witnessing when in their father’s care.
“What is happening between those two is so toxic and volatile and that is not for me to sort out,” she told the court.
“I was protecting my children.”
The court was told she found texts on her son’s iPad between her ex-husband and his new partner which alleged domestic violence.
The court heard one of the texts said: “You nearly broke my hand, you left me wanting to die”.
She said she also found notes on the iPad which documented alleged verbal abuse towards the new partner.
The woman denied suggestions from Senior Sgt Pullen that the children may have only seen one image on the iPad, but she told the court she saw them “swiping” through the photos.
She told the court she forwarded a screen grab to the child’s parent in an attempt to “profusely apologise” and explain the situation.
The court heard she felt she had a “duty” to inform the children’s mother “what the content was”.
The other mother gave evidence on Friday afternoon, telling the court she had asked her friend to send her what her children had seen so she could discuss the content with them.
“I wanted to know everything … my children had witnessed it on the iPad,” the woman told the court.
Defence barrister Christopher Cole, representing the NRL star’s ex-wife, told the court it was not in dispute that the woman had sent the photographs to her friend, but she was defending it on the basis it was “reasonable” for her to have recorded and distributed the images.
The court heard the woman had messaged her ex-husband and his new partner, saying she had everything “on record now”.
“If you do one wrong thing by the children or I, this will be in court,” the court was told the message said.
On Friday, she explained she sent the message because she was worried her children were witnessing domestic violence.
Police allege the woman illegally “recorded” the videos and images of the sex acts without the consent of the NRL star or his new partner.
The woman is facing one charge of intentionally distributing an intimate image without consent and another of intentionally recording an intimate image without consent.
Under new NSW laws which deal with revenge porn, a number of “exceptions” can be used as a defence.
These include whether a “reasonable person would consider the conduct of the accused as acceptable” when they allegedly distributed the images.
The court will need to determine the nature and content of the material, “the circumstances” in which they were recorded and the degree to which the alleged victims’ privacy was impacted.
The hearing will resume in March, where the magistrate is expected to come to a verdict.