Bruce Lehrmann trial: jury sent home overnight and will continue deliberating

Lehrmann pleaded not guilty to raping Brittany Higgins in trial at ACT supreme court in Canberra

The jury in the trial of Bruce Lehrmann will continue its deliberations on Thursday after it went another day without reaching a unanimous verdict.

The jury indicated on Tuesday it was unable to reach a unanimous verdict in the case after almost four full days of deliberations. But the ACT chief justice, Lucy McCallum, told them to try again.

She called them back at 4pm on Wednesday after another day of deliberations.

“No one could suggest that you’re not working extremely hard,” she told the jury. “I thank you again for your ongoing hard work.”

The judge sent them home for the night. They will continue their deliberations on Thursday.

Lehrmann is accused of raping Brittany Higgins – a fellow political staffer – in then defence industry minister Linda Reynolds’ office, on 23 March 2019 in Parliament House.

The pair returned to Parliament House in the early hours of the morning after a night of heavy drinking, the court has heard.

Higgins alleges she passed out, woke to a pain in her leg and found Lehrmann on top of her, raping her on a couch opposite Reynolds’ desk.

She told the jury she disclosed her alleged rape to superiors in the office, friends, colleagues, and police in the weeks after 23 March 2019.

Prosecutors have said her complaints have been consistent. Initially, she decided not to pursue a police complaint in 2019, pausing any police action until 2021, when she resigned from Michaelia Cash’s office and went public with the allegation.

Lehrmann has pleaded not guilty to a charge of sexual intercourse without consent at his trial in the ACT supreme court.

He said there was no rape and no sex in Reynolds’ office. His defence team, led by Steven Whybrow, alleges Higgins has been caught out giving false or inconsistent evidence.

Whybrow has accused Higgins of either reconstructing the events of that night to the point where she genuinely believes them, or fabricating the allegation to save her own job after being found naked by security.

The jury has been deliberating since last Wednesday afternoon.


Christopher Knaus

The GuardianTramp