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What happens NEXT for Brittany Higgins and her accused rapist: Judge details whether a second trial will be held after case is sensationally dismissed

  • Bruce Lehrmann was standing trial, accused of raping Brittany Higgins in 2019
  • Jury was dismissed on Thursday after juror brought in research into jury room
  • Justice Lucy McCallum said a second trial could start in February next year 

Brittany Higgins’ accused rapist Bruce Lehrmann will stand trial again in February next year after the jury on the case was sensationally dismissed.

Chief Justice Lucy McCallum dismissed the 12 jurors shortly after 10am on Thursday after one brought an academic research paper about sexual assault into the jury room. 

Lehrmann had been standing trial, accused of the political staffer’s rape following a drunken night out in March 2019. He had pleaded not guilty. 

The jurors had been explicitly and repeatedly instructed not to do any research except what is presented to them in the courtroom. 

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In the wake of her decision, Justice McCallum suggested the trial will be rerun early next year.

‘I have a mind to relist this trial for February 20, 2023,’ Justice McCallum said. 

She said Lehrmann would have to submit any impending international itineraries to police two weeks in advance. He was granted bail. 

Brittany Higgins' (pictured) accused rapist Bruce Lehrmann may stand trial again in February next year after the jury on the case was sensationally dismissed

Brittany Higgins’ (pictured) accused rapist Bruce Lehrmann may stand trial again in February next year after the jury on the case was sensationally dismissed

‘It is now about four months before the resumption of the new trial, if there is to be one,’ Justice McCallum said.

‘As I’ve said in court many times, the accused is just that. He is a person who stands accused and may never be convicted of a criminal offence.’

Prosecutor Skye Jerome tried to impose bail conditions on Lehrmann not to contact Ms Higgins, her parents, or Ms Higgins’s boyfriend David Sharaz. 

He must also tell police where he is living, and notify them of any residential changes. 

Ms Jerome requested he surrender his passport, which defence lawyer Steven Whybrow objected to.

Justice McCallum said media reporting of the case after Thursday should ‘fall silent’ so Lehrmann can be given another fair trial.

Bruce Lehrmann (pictured) had been standing trial, accused of the political staffer's rape following a drunken night out in March 2019. He had pleaded not guilty

Bruce Lehrmann (pictured) had been standing trial, accused of the political staffer’s rape following a drunken night out in March 2019. He had pleaded not guilty

Ms Higgins burst into tears at hearing the trial would be abandoned as she appeared in court for the first time since giving evidence.

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Justice McCallum said: ‘It has come to my attention that one of you has undertaken research in relation to issues in the case and that material has entered the jury room which ought not to have.

‘I have heard an explanation and it may be that no harm has been done but that is not a risk I can take. I have discharged that juror and I have to discharge you all.

‘Can I please convey to you my sincerest gratitude to the hard work you’ve done in this trial.

‘With those remarks, you’re discharged and you are free to leave.’

She later explained why the jury was discharged.

Ms Higgins (pictured with partner David Sharaz) burst into tears at hearing the trial would be abandoned as she appeared in court for the first time since giving evidence

Ms Higgins (pictured with partner David Sharaz) burst into tears at hearing the trial would be abandoned as she appeared in court for the first time since giving evidence

‘During routine tidying of the jury room after the conclusion of the proceedings yesterday, one of the sheriff’s officers accidentally bumped one of the jurors documents folders onto the floor,’ she told the court.

‘The judge said the sheriff saw the title of an academic research paper. The topic of the paper might be sexual assault.

‘The matter was promptly brought to my attention. My associates identified what appeared to be the document in question.

‘In the circumstances, it is appropriate to regard that evidence with some scepticism.’

Justice McCallum said during the course of the trial she gave the jury ‘at least’ 17 warnings.

‘This is an unexpected and unfortunate outcome in this trial,’ she said.

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Lehrmann had pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual intercourse without consent.

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