Lehrmann’s four words in alleged rape: court

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Bruce Lehrmann has learned whether he will stand trial for the alleged rape of a woman in Toowoomba back in 2021.

The woman who alleges she was raped by former parliamentary staffer Bruce Lehrmann claims he uttered four words as he was having non consensual sex with her, a court has heard.

Mr Lehrmann fronted Toowoomba Magistrates Court last month for a committal hearing on the two rape offences, which police allege occurred in the regional Queensland city three years ago.

It marked the first time he appeared at the courtroom in person since the charges were laid last year.

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Bruce Lehrmann is expected to learn whether he will stand trial in a higher court for the alleged rape of a woman in 2021. Picture: NewsWire / John Gass

During Thursday’s proceedings, Magistrate Mark Howden found there was sufficient evidence to put him on trial in a higher court.

Mr Lehrmann was excused from attending the court on Thursday, and instead appeared remotely on the phone.

When asked whether Mr Lehrmann wanted to enter a plea, he told the court: “Not at this time, thank you, your Honour”.

Mr Lehrmann’s legal team argued he has no case to answer to during court proceedings on Thursday.

Crown prosecutor Nicole Friedewald said the case against Mr Lehrmann includes two counts of rape.

The court heard the woman had been out drinking with friends and had consumed four lines of cocaine before she went to the strip club, The Vault, in Toowoomba where she met a man she claimed said his name was Bryce.

It will be alleged in court Mr Lehrmann had given the woman a false name of “Bryce” when the pair met, before clarifying his name is “Bruce”.

The pair allegedly struck up a conversation about their political views before catching a taxi back to the home of a school friend of Mr Lehrmann.

At the home, the woman and Mr Lehrmann had consensual sex and consumed more cocaine after Mr Lehrmann discovered it in her bra, the court was told.

The woman then allegedly lost consciousness before she “woke up” to Mr Lehrmann having sex with her without her consent.

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Bruce Lehrmann and the woman met at The Vault On Ruthven adult entertainment club in Toowoomba hours before she was allegedly raped by the former parliamentary staffer. Picture: Dan Peled / NewsWire

The woman then allegedly stopped Mr Lehrmann from having sex with her by saying “stop, what are you doing”, Ms Friedewald told the court.

The second charge against Mr Lehrmann alleges that moments later, he again had sexual intercourse with the woman without her consent.

Ms Friedewald said the complainant told police that during the second incident she was “not enthusiastically laying there” while Mr Lehrmann was allegedly having sex with her.

Ms Friedewald told the court the woman also alleged while this was happening, Mr Lehrmann was “consoling her throughout the act” saying to her “it’s okay, it’s okay” and he was not wearing a condom at the time.

“She describes her body as being limp and that she was not enthusiastic. He continued having intercourse with her until he ejaculated inside of her,” Ms Friedewald said.

The court was told while the pair had consensual sex after they had met hours earlier, the crown will allege that the complainant did not consent to having sex after she woke up.

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Mr Lehrmann fronted Toowoomba Magistrates Court in June for the first time since the charges were laid but has been excused from attending Thursday’s proceedings. Picture: NewsWire / John Gass

Mr Lehrmann’s barrister, Andrew Hoare KC, said the complainant’s statements to others contradict what she said when she reported the incident to police on November 26.

Mr Hoare said about two hours after the alleged sexual assault, the complainant filled out paperwork at a pharmacy where she was trying to access the morning after pill.

The court heard the form has an option for a person to select ‘sexual assault’ as a reason for the emergency contraception.

“The complainant does not tick that box and it must be said that the ticking of a box is quite distinct of any type of narrative,” Mr Hoare said.

Mr Hoare told the court the woman also didn’t report the alleged sexual assault to her doctor during several appointments between the alleged incident and the initial report to police.

The court was told the complainant had also spoken to a friend about the incident before reporting the matter to police.

“There then is the intervention of the complainant’s (friend) who crystallises the complainant’s state of mind,” he said.

“It’s (the friend) who has suggested that (the complainant) has been sexually assaulted and it is after that the (allegation of) sexual assault is made.

“Her uncertainty as to the events themselves and certainly until its crystallised by (her friend) shows no subjective belief that she’s been sexually assaulted at all.

“What is being said is that the assertion made now by the complainant in respect to count one is inconsistent with disclosures made to others and inconsistent with a document she herself created, which is the reason for wanting the morning after pill.”

The court was told the compliant first met with civil lawyer and a criminal lawyer before meeting with police the day after she became aware who Mr Lehrmann was.

The court was told the complainant had been drinking alcohol and had used cocaine before she met Mr Lehrmann at the nightclub.

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Bruce Lehrmann was committed to stand trial over two counts of rape after hearing in Toowoomba Magistrates Court. Picture: Dan Peled / NewsWire

Mr Hoare said the complainant’s alcohol and drug use could explain why she had no recollection of some of the events that occurred in the bedroom with Mr Lehrmann.

“The conclusion of the doctor that even in the absence of memory, the complainant is capable of consenting, but just not remembering, those circumstances surrounding the act which is now subject of complaint,” Mr Hoare said, referring to a medical expert witness who gave evidence about the impact of alcohol and drug use on a person’s memory.

The court was told while the expert witness did not analyse the woman’s medical records, he gave his professional medical opinion about the alleged scenario of that night and how alcohol and drug use can lead to “fragmented memory loss”.

Ms Friedewald said the Crown would argue that while there was initial consent given for the first sexual act, the complainant’s actions after she woke up or regained consciousness should have been indication to Mr Lehrmann he didn’t have further consent to have sex with her.

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Barristers for former parliamentary staffer Bruce Lehrmann, Patrick Wilson KC and Andrew Hoare KC arrive at the Toowoomba Magistrates Court. Picture: Dan Peled / NewsWire

“Whilst there is some contextual relevance they had consensual intercourse … that does not mean that there was consent to any or every act of intercourse or penetration for every act,” she said.

“In terms of the complainant’s evidence, it is clear, it is unequivocal, that she was passed out (or) unconscious at the time (of the first count of rape).

“If the jury can accept her evidence, they can accept she was not a consenting party to the act.”

Ms Freidewald said it is also “not an uncommon occurrence” for an alleged victim of rape to not report the matter straight away.

Referring to the complainant telling her friend about the interaction with Mr Lehrmann, Ms Freidewald said the messages between the two women were “significant” to show that the friend did not “plant the idea of sexual assault or rape in the mind for the first time” of the complainant.

The court was told the complainant replied to her friend’s message that she should report the incident to police with “who’s going to believe me”.

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The barrister for former parliamentary staffer Bruce Lehrmann Andrew Hoare KC told the court his client was in a show cause and the charges should be dropped. Picture: Dan Peled / NewsWire

At the last hearing on June 17, a single witness – the complainant in the alleged matter – was cross-examined by Mr Lehrmann’s legal team during the closed court proceedings.

Media entities, including News Corp Australia, applied to the court seeking permission to report on closed court evidence during the committal.

Representing the media outlets, barrister Jessica Goldie argued the move would not be prejudicial to the complainant.

She told the court that having media present during the committal would allow for a fair and accurate report of proceedings and allow the media to perform its public interest function of “appropriate reporting” of alleged serious sexual offences.

“They both reflect on the principles of open justice, which is an important fundamental proposition to our legal system” Ms Goldie said.

Ms Goldie said Mr Lehrmann’s case was a unique one that had attracted a high degree of national interest and media coverage.

But Mr Lehrmann’s barrister Andrew Hoare said there was a risk the complainant would be identified from her evidence.

The application was also opposed by the Crown, who told the court the complainant herself had opposed the application to protect her privacy.

Magistrate Mark Howden ultimately refused the application while noting the high level of public interest.

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Crown prosecutor Nicole Friedewald. Picture: NewsWire / John Gass

“However, in the court’s opinion there has not been any basis raised which would shift the position that it would not be prejudicial to the interests of the complainant.

“The matter ought to proceed in the ordinary way in my opinion.”

Mr Lehrmann was charged in December 2022 with raping a woman in Toowoomba in October the year before.

At the time of his first court appearance in January 2023, Mr Lehrmann was known only as a “high-profile man” in media reports about the allegations, due to laws in Queensland prohibiting the identification of people charged with prescribed sexual offences before they are committed to stand trial.

But this legislation was changed by the state government on October 3 last year.

Mr Lehrmann’s legal team then kicked off an 11th-hour application to the state’s highest court in a bid to keep his identity protected.

This non-publication order was subsequently knocked back.