26 October 2023

Bruce Lehrmann named as man accused of sexual assault in Queensland after suppression order lifted

| Claire Fenwicke
Bruce Lehrmann

Bruce Lehrmann is facing two charges related to an alleged sexual assault in Toowoomba. Photo: Albert McKnight.

Media outlets are now able to report Bruce Lehrmann has been named as a defendant in a sexual assault case in Toowoomba after a Queensland Supreme Court refused to grant any further non-publication orders in the case.

Mr Lehrmann had applied to the Toowoomba Magistrates Court to have a non-publication order made, with his counsel submitting there was a “real existing risk of harm which will be amplified by the publication of the applicant’s identifying particulars”.

Counsel for the prosecution and some media outlets (the respondents) stated the evidence to support a non-publication order was “unsatisfactory” and “unnecessary” to protect Mr Lehrmann’s safety.

“The respondents relied upon what was submitted to the Magistrate to be a contrast between the applicant’s public position, as he presented in three television interviews between June and August 2023, and [a psychologist’s] description of him after June 2023,” the court’s reasons noted.

“The Magistrate considered all the evidence, weighted it, and concluded that the evidence relied upon by the applicant did not establish that ‘the order is necessary to protect the safety of the defendant’.”

Mr Lehrmann’s counsel then made an immediate stay application to the Supreme Court to have this decision reversed.

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The Magistrate’s decision to remove the non-publication order was reviewed by the Supreme Court on Thursday (26 October), which concluded the decision wasn’t impacted by errors alleged by Mr Lehrmann’s counsel.

“The evidence before the Magistrate included evidence that the potential naming of the applicant prior to the conclusion of the committal proceeding weighed heavily on him and had affected his mental health,” court documents noted.

“This unfortunate effect on his mental health permitted, but did not compel, a finding that a non-publication order was necessary to protect the applicant’s safety.

“The Supreme Court concluded that, given the state of the evidence, it was open to a reasonable decision-maker to not be satisfied that the non-publication order was necessary to protect the safety of the applicant.”

Mr Lehrmann is accused of two counts of rape alleged to have occurred in Toowoomba in October 2021.

He was charged in December 2022, and his case was first mentioned in the Toowoomba Magistrates Court in January this year.

Mr Lehrmann was previously accused of sexual assault in the ACT, with his case resulting in a mistrial.

He has maintained his innocence and no findings have been made against him.

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