Craig Wells was supposed to be living a charmed existence.
He had been worshipped on the rugby union field while donning the jumpers of the NSW Waratahs and ACT Brumbies, and was said to be unlucky to be one of the last players cast aside from the Wallabies squad which went on to win the 1991 World Cup.
But there was more than a hint of darkness to the hard-running centre from Wollongong, a sinister side where drug and alcohol addictions had mixed in with wild group sex romps organised over the internet.
And so it was, on his 45th birthday in July, 2015, when his two worlds collided as an out-of-control Wells and his sometimes sex partner, Metford woman Theresa Anne Blair, plied a 14-year-old girl with alcohol and cannabis before raping her.
Blair had even sat on the girl’s chest so the victim wouldn’t move as she was being sexually assaulted by Wells.
Later that night, as Wells raped the girl for a second time, he was to say: “I wish I could get you pregnant and have babies with you but you’re too young.’’
And when the girl woke the following morning, Wells cuddled up to her and said: “Did you have fun.’’
Wells was sentenced on Thursday to six years’ jail for the aggravated rape of the young girl at Metford and will have to serve at least four years before he is eligible for parole.
Blair was handed a jail term of five years and three months with a non-parole period of three years and six months.
With time already served, Wells could be out in September, 2019 and Blair six months earlier.
The pair had both pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual intercouse without consent and asked the judge to take into account other offences occurred on the same night.
Newcastle District Court heard the pair had met online in 2012 and had organised six-month meetings where they would binge on alcohol, gambling and sex.
For his 45th birthday, Wells had travelled to Newcastle where he and Blair had gone to a pub to drink and celebrate.
Blair had already bought the victim a 10-pack of vodka pre-mixed cans and when she arrived back at her Metford home with Wells, the girl was drunk.
She finished off her last two cans and smoked some cannabis with Wells before Blair took the intoxicated girl into a bedroom and undressed her.
Wells followed before raping the girl as Blair sat naked on her chest.
The court heard the girl, who was still suffering significantly from the attack, had made an attempt on her life not long after the rape and had completely removed herself from society.
Defence counsel Leah Rowan told the court of how Wells had fallen “well and truly off the rails” in the lead-up to the attack and that it was the “framework that was unfolding and that was his life’’.
“For someone who had so many talents, so many gifts and opportunities, it was all just thrown away,’’ Ms Rowan said.
The barrister had earlier said: “This is somebody who, when you look at the subjective factors, it is clear he is an intelligent man who was particularly talented in the sporting field.
“And it would be very easy, I think unavoidable, to put to the court that young people who are at elite levels in sport [that] the focus is more on the sport and less so, as is the case, [on] concern with raising responsible, morally upright men and women.’’
Wells had become a professional rugby union player as an 18-year-old, moving to the UK before returning to have stints with the Waratahs and Brumbies before again heading overseas.
In sentencing, Judge Tanya Bright made mention of Wells suffering from several bad injuries, including multiple concussions.
And during six years in the United States, Wells’ marriage fell apart because of the “daily alcohol and cannabis [consumption] and supplemented by weekend abuse of cocaine’’.
“It seems that because of the injuries he sustained whilst he was playing, he started to self-medicate with alcohol, cannabis and other prohibited drugs,’’ Judge Bright said.
Judge Bright said Wells had told a psychiatrist: “Alcohol and drugs and sex had been controlling my life for too long’’.
And Wells wrote in a letter to the court: “I feel disgusted in myself to have allowed my addictions to take me to the place I am now.’’