29 April 2022

Trial of Brittany Higgins' alleged rapist to proceed as stay application dismissed

| Albert McKnight
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Bruce Lehrmann is accused of raping Brittany Higgins. Photos: Supplied.

An application to halt the criminal proceedings against the man accused of raping Brittany Higgins has been dismissed, clearing the path to his trial this June.

ACT Policing alleged that 26-year-old Bruce Lehrmann had sexual intercourse with Ms Higgins without her consent at Parliament House on 23 March 2019.

He has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual intercourse without consent, and his case was committed to trial late last year.

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On Friday (29 April), Chief Justice Lucy McCallum told the ACT Supreme Court Mr Lehrmann’s application for a temporary or permanent stay of the criminal proceedings against him was dismissed, as was his application for a media takedown order and injunction.

In her published decision, she said the matter had attracted “a considerable amount of public attention” for various reasons.

“The accused contends that the nature of the publicity is such that, absent the possibility of proceeding by judge alone, a fair trial is now impossible,” she said.

She said he argued the court would not be able to find 12 impartial jurors and nothing a trial judge could do would relieve “the unfair consequences of that publicity”.

He sought a permanent stay of the prosecution, or a delay of the trial.

Mr Lehrmann also wanted orders that would require various media organisations to take down certain articles and orders to stop media from publishing articles relating to the criminal proceedings.

However, Chief Justice McCallum refused both applications.

The trial is scheduled to begin on 6 June and is expected to last for about six weeks.

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Capital Retro1:24 pm 01 May 22

I doubt if an appeal court would agree with our Chief Justice’s decision.

Having said that, a jury trial is going to be fairer than a judge alone one.

Interesting decision by our Chief Justice Lucy McCallum.

The argument from the defendant counsel went “The accused contends that the nature of the publicity is such that, absent the possibility of proceeding by judge alone, a fair trial is now impossible”

She said he argued the court would not be able to find 12 impartial jurors and nothing a trial judge could do would relieve “the unfair consequences of that publicity”.

Considering everyone from the Prime Minister down has commented on this alleged event I may have thought there was some merit in the application.

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