The secret life of NRL violence accuser Arabella Del Busso
The allegation was that he assaulted her at his Caringbah home. But NSW Police this week sensationally ruled to jettison the assault charge based on an allegation levelled by the Maxim model Arabella Del Busso against the Wests Tigers star Josh Reynolds which called time on their tempestuous one-year relationship.
The Saturday Telegraph can reveal the police decision to drop the charge came amid escalating concerns of a lack of evidence to secure a conviction. Police will lodge the application to officially withdraw the charge in court on April 27.
A jubilant Reynolds has been trumpeting the decision espousing the sheer relief he has felt at finally being able to focus on his career and draw a line under his life with a woman he said was worse than a "Netflix series."
Reynolds' legal team were to argue in court she "faked" three pregnancies and duped him out of thousands of dollars over a web of lies including the death of her own mother.
"It's a great feeling," the former NSW State of Origin star said, adding, "She (Arabella) was smart, she knew what to do. There's no Netflix series, there's nothing that's as good as her ploy.
"I feel silly but she played with my emotions.
"The last nine weeks, since I was charged, have been one of the most tumultuous and difficult periods of my life," he said.
"Thank you, mum, for always standing by my side - I love you."
For her part, Del Busso is deeply "shocked" and "hurt" at her treatment by NSW Police. Turning their backs on her is unjust and makes a mockery of what she maintains is a genuine domestic violence case, she says.
Calling her lawyer Rhys Rogers, who specialises in corporate strategy, to complain she first heard on television police had dropped the charge and claiming that no one from the domestic violence unit had informed her, she issued a swift statement.
"We will be seeking clear answers from NSW Police," said Mr Rogers from Melbourne law firm, Roberts Grays.
"We have received no formal communications from NSW Police and we have not been informed of the reasons for their decision to drop the assault charge.
"We (and she) are shocked at her treatment by the NSW Police."
Speaking though a close friend, Del Busso maintains she has medical evidence to prove the pregnancies she had with Reynolds were genuine.
"There is evidence to dispute every single claim Josh has made," she said.
"Birth certificates, citizenship certificates and medical records don't lie.
"I haven't had anything to do with my biological mum since I was 17. The truth will come out in the end." Del Busso has kept an exceedingly low profile since reporting the assault charge at St George Police Station on 2pm on December 11.
She did, however, show up, varnished, in a plunging strapless dress and smiled coyly at cameramen awaiting her arrival at Melbourne's Rialto Towers for her 30th birthday.
But her teary shows of sadness and disappointment seem too little, too late.
Since lodging the assault charge at 2pm that Saturday, a tangle of unrelated claims of lies has unravelled.
Reynolds' defence team were to argue she duped the player out of thousands of dollars, feigned three pregnancies using digitally enhanced images to give the illusion she was pregnant and tricked him into thinking she miscarried over the course of their one-year relationship - claims she vehemently denies.
A witness has also provided a statement to Reynolds' legal team alleging Del Busso, a former receptionist at a Melbourne IVF clinic, asked them to help her inject fertility drugs to bloat her stomach so she appeared pregnant.
The witness claimed she told him, too, her mother had died and she couldn't afford to bury her in Italy.
He took her for a surprise meal at The Black restaurant at Sydney's Star Casino and flew her to Italy with thousands of dollars in her pocket to fund the service of the apparent erstwhile Isobel Preusker.
Reynolds, raised single-handedly by his mother Nicole after his parents split, admits he felt "silly" for being duped by the beautiful brunette he met through social media.
Since his unhappy romance was played out in public, several men the pneumatic brunette had dated, friends, and her own mother (who is incidentally alive) have come to the fore to set out the crushing emotional and financial tolls their encounters with her have taken.
They maintain she is the master of calculated plots around fake pregnancies, family deaths and cancer diagnoses.
Del Busso has never been charged with any criminal wrongdoing in relation to these claims.
Born Donna Preusker to nurse Isobel in Nowra, the family later moved to Traralgon in the Gippsland region of Victoria.
Emboldened by her good looks, she stood out among contemporaries at Traralgon College for her verbose confidence and milked the sympathy of men flattered by her attention.
Thirteen years ago, the AFL intern made her foray into the world of sport telling Churchill and District News in 2008 of her ambitions to become a sports masseuse.
Yet months later she was to fake brain cancer and seizures to convince then boyfriend Brendan Van Slageren and their friends to pay almost $10,000 for surgery on the incurable disease she claimed had given her 18 months to live.
Decent, trusting Mr Van Slageren had no inkling of what was to come.
He says today he still struggles with fury, frustration and paranoia.
"People put their hands in their pockets when she would cry about the cancer, friends, me, and friends of friends, we were shocked when she said she only had 18 months," Mr Van Slageren, 34, told the Saturday Telegraph.
"She told me in a text she had been diagnosed and only had a 50-50 per cent chance of survival if it was operated on, she wanted to split up, said her hair would fall out with chemo and she didn't want me to see her like that.
"But things didn't add up, she had a massive seizure on the floor of my lounge, I remember thinking they looked fake but I didn't dare believe it," he said.
"She never had cancer … I feel so dumb believing it. Why wouldn't I, I had no reason not to.
"It took me years to learn to trust women again. I still question my beliefs today," he says.
The glamour magazine model - who also goes by nine aliases including Arabella Barcelona and Bella Donna - has a history of deception first uncovered by her mother who threw her out of the family home when she was 18.
"She was spiralling out of control for years fabricating lies," Ms Preusker said, adding, "I had three other children I had to protect.
"She had stars in her eyes and just wanted to be famous … It's a road she has chosen to go down. It wasn't the way she was raised," she said.
One friend wonders about her backstory.
"She hankers for the lost love of her Italian-born father who died when she was young, she says she was abandoned.
"She takes on different Italian names in his memory, she was born into the wrong family with her mother, she dislikes her stepfather, she hasn't spoken to her mother in more than 10 years," the friend told the Saturday Telegraph.
Mechanic Michael Hayes never imaged what was to unfold when he met Del Busso last year.
Four funerals, including her mother's, and fake claims of poverty for loans she never repaid. He handed over more than $10,000 in total.
"I fell for her lies, she's beautiful and knows it, she uses her looks and her fake tits to get what she wants," Mr Hayes said.
"We dated for six months and the whole time I was with her (she claimed) four people died. She said she didn't have money for the funerals - I paid for them.
"Months later another uncle died and another relative, I paid for that funeral as well."
Hayes, a 36-year-old father from Sanctuary Cove in Queensland, successfully sued Del Busso for fraud and obtaining money by deception and was awarded $7866 via a Queensland tribunal in 2019.
He and four other men have given key statements to Reynolds' lawyers.
The drama is not over for Del Busso, who is now under police investigation after up to 10 other men came forward claiming she duped them separately of thousands of dollars by faking cancer and the deaths of relatives.
No charges have to date been laid.
Retired soil scientist Kawme Asumadu, 70, has said Del Busso, who went by the name Bella Donna when he met her some five years ago, duped him as well.
A warranty claims officer at the Toyota dealership in up-market Brighton in Melbourne, she flirted indiscriminately with clients and he admits, with shame, he was duped.
He sold her a crocodile skin bag from his native Guyana worth $600 which she never paid back until he tracked her down to a new workplace and demanded the money.
"I am divorced, she was pretty and friendly, she said she loved the bag I had and I sold her one," he said.
"She delayed paying me, said she had ovarian cancer and her mum had cancer too and her father died prematurely and abandoned her and her sister.
"How can a young beautiful girl have so much bad luck?" he said.
"Six months later she switched off her phone and deleted her Facebook.
"I found her at a new dealership and she agreed a repayment plan if I didn't call police.
"I was an old fool."
Del Busso has refused repeated request for interviews to respond to Mr Asumadu's claim.
*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.