The Jury Has Been Discharged In The Bruce Lehrmann Rape Trial
Lehrmann stands accused of raping Brittany Higgins in Parliament House in March 2019.
The jury in the rape trial of Bruce Lehrmann has been discharged after a week of deliberation, amid allegations of possible juror misconduct.
Lehrmann stands accused of raping Brittany Higgins in Parliament House in March 2019. He pleaded not guilty and has denied ever engaging in any sexual activity with Higgins.
In a shock announcement on Thursday morning, Chief Justice Lucy McCallum discharged the jury after learning that at least one juror had allegedly obtained material that was not presented in the 12-day trial. McCallum asserted that she had no other option than to discharge the entire jury.
The juror allegedly brought in a research paper on sexual assault, which detailed reasons for false complaints and attempted to quantify how many sexual assault complaints were false. The decision to introduce the paper into jury deliberations reportedly came after at least 17 directions from McCallum not to conduct outside research.
“It has come to my attention that one of you has, contrary to directions, undertaken research in relation to an issue in the case,” McCallum said. “That material has entered the jury room which ought not to have.”
“I have had an explanation and it may be no harm has been done but that is not a risk I can take.”
The juror in question had already been discharged, but McCallum then made the decision to discharge the group as a whole. “Sometimes there is a mishap which … results in a miscarriage of a trial. That’s what’s happened here,” she said.
The news comes after 29 witnesses took the stand in the trial, including high profile politicians like Linda Reynolds and Michaelia Cash.
Prior to being discharged, the 12 person jury had struggled to reach a unanimous verdict and had been deliberating for a week. On Tuesday, they sent a note to McCallum informing her that they were, so far, unable to reach a decision.
Photo Credit: Martin Ollman/Getty Images