25 October 2022

Bruce Lehrmann trial: jurors can't agree on verdict, but urged to continue deliberations

| Albert McKnight

Brittany Higgins and Bruce Lehrmann leave the ACT Supreme Court during the trial. Photos: Albert McKnight.

CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses an alleged sexual assault.

Jurors in the trial of Bruce Lehrmann have said they are unable to agree on the allegation of whether or not he raped Brittany Higgins, but have retired again after being urged to continue their deliberations.

Mr Lehrmann, 27, was accused of raping Ms Higgins inside Parliament House on 23 March 2019 in an ACT Supreme Court trial that began earlier this month before it closed last week.

The 12 jurors spent four days deliberating before sending a note to the court on Tuesday afternoon (25 October) that said they were “unable to reach a unanimous verdict”, Chief Justice Lucy McCallum said.

She told them she was able to discharge them, but only if she examined if they were not likely to agree.

READ ALSO Bruce Lehrmann went to Parliament House on night of alleged rape to drink whiskey, chief of staff claims

Judges were reluctant to discharge juries, she said, because experience showed the juries could agree if given enough time to discuss the issues.

However, she also noted their only expectation was to return a true verdict.

The chief justice ultimately asked the jurors to retire again to see if they could come to a unanimous verdict in the trial.

About half an hour later, the jurors sent a note asking to go home for the day and return with fresh minds on Wednesday (26 October).

READ ALSO Brittany Higgins originally told AFP she wanted rape allegation kept ‘off the record’

Chief Justice McCallum thanked them for their hard work and urged them to find some respite from the “arduous task that faces you”.

Numerous witnesses gave evidence during the trial, including Ms Higgins herself, her former bosses senators Michaelia Cash and Linda Reynolds, as well as her mother, while jurors also heard Mr Lehrmann’s interview with police.

Mr Lehrmann pleaded not guilty to a charge of sexual intercourse without consent.

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