“A review of the article reveals that it could be deployed to support either side of the central issue in this case, which was whether an act of sexual intercourse was proved beyond reasonable doubt.”
The juror who caused a mistrial in the high profile case of Bruce Lehrmann, accused of raping Brittany Higgins, by bringing a research paper into the jury room brought an additional two academic articles.
ACT Supreme Court Chief Justice Lucy McCallum released her decisions for discharging the jury of eight men and two women on Thursday after a week of deliberations.
Justice McCallum said she was informed after she discharged the jury an additional two papers had been found by the court sheriffs, despite her warning the jurors they could not conduct their own research at least 17 times over the course of the trial.
“In any event, it is now beyond dispute that the research article made its way into the jury room,” she said.
“A review of the article reveals that it could be deployed to support either side of the central issue in this case, which was whether an act of sexual intercourse was proved beyond reasonable doubt.
“The discovery of the article and the fact that it was brought into the jury room, of itself, necessitated the discharge of the whole jury.”
Mr Lehrmann has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual intercourse without consent and recklessness towards whether Ms Higgins was consenting.
Ms Higgins alleged Mr Lehrmann raped her on the office couch of then defence industry minister Linda Reynolds in the early hours of March 23 in 2019 after a night out drinking with colleagues.
Ms Higgins’ entered the witness box four times over the course of the trial.
She was accused of fabricating the allegations to protect her career as well as questioned about her former partners, why she didn’t see a doctor in the days after the rape and why she chose not to wear underwear.
Mr Lehrmann was granted bail and must notify the Australian Federal Police if he wants to leave Australia. In an interview with the Australian Federal Police recorded in April 2019 – the only account he has given available to the public – Mr Lehrmann denied the rape and said his world was rocked when reports on the allegations emerged.
A court sheriff discovered the academic paper that discussed the unhelpfulness of attempting to quantify the prevalence of false complaints and scepticism in the face of true complaints during a routine clean on Wednesday night.
It was discovered after they accidentally knocked over a clear plastic document folder belonging to the juror and noticed the title of the paper.
The juror’s box was not opened, Justice McCallum said, but the title was visible through the plastic and suggested the paper was on sexual assault.
Justice McCallum questioned the juror in closed court on Thursday to protect their identity and said their conduct in NSW would constitute an offence.
“There is no such offence in the Australian Capital Territory, but it is beyond question that the conduct of the juror is such as to abort the trial,” she said.
“Both counsels for the prosecution and for the accused agreed with my decision in that respect.
“It should go without saying that this outcome is both unexpected and unfortunate.”
Ms Higgins gave an emotional speech outside the ACT Supreme Court on Thursday after the jury was discharged, to which Mr Lehrmann’s counsel alerted the police.
A retrial will take place in February next year.