‘No case’: Next move in Lehrmann rape case

Bruce Lehrmann has been charged with two counts of rape over allegations from 2021. Picture: NCA NewsWire / John Appleyard

Lawyers for Bruce Lehrmann will argue there is not enough evidence to put the former parliamentary staffer on trial for the alleged rape of a woman.

Mr Lehrmann fronted Toowoomba Magistrates Court for the first time on Monday as a committal hearing on the two rape charges – alleged to have occurred in Toowoomba – kicked off.

But this decision will now take place in July – with his legal team indicating they would make a no case submission to the court.

Mr Lehrmann did not speak to media when leaving the courthouse on Monday after proceedings were adjourned.

It follows proceedings being closed to the media after an application to report on the complainant’s evidence was dismissed.

Former parliamentary staffer Bruce Lehrmann will learn on July 4 whether he will stand trial for the alleged rape of a woman in 2021. Picture: NewsWire / John Gass
He did not comment to media as he left the courthouse following his first appearance for the committal hearing. Picture: NewsWire / John Gass

Mr Lehrmann was overheard saying “where’s Peter Costello when you need him?” as he entered the courtroom in the morning.

The quip is in reference to Mr Costello allegedly knocking over a journalist from The Australian, which was caught on video, at Canberra Airport earlier this month.

Monday’s proceedings mark the first time Mr Lehrmann, 29, has fronted the regional courtroom since the charges were laid.

But a decision has not been made as to whether he will stand trial on the two rape charges.

Instead, proceedings were adjourned to July 4 for that to occur.

Mr Lehrmann’s barrister Andrew Hoare told the court on that day, he would make submissions concerning the sufficiency of the evidence to put his client on trial.

Prosecutors also required time to respond to the submissions.

Magistrate Mark Howden continued Mr Lehrmann’s bail and allowed him to appear via audiovisual link on that date.

Earlier in the day, an application from media entities to be allowed to report on closed court evidence during the committal was dismissed.

Mr Lehrmann is facing two charges of rape. Picture: NewsWire / John Gass

“I accept the principle of open justice and acknowledge the high public interest in this case,” magistrate Mark Howden said during his decision.

“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 is facing two charges of rape, with police alleging he raped a woman on two occasions while he was living in his home town in October 2021.

He has not yet entered pleas, but he has indicated he will defend the charges.

Mr Lehrmann has previously been excused from attending court, but he is required to be present on Monday for a committal hearing.

After he was charged with the offences in 2021, Mr Lehrmann was known only as a “high-profile man” in media reports about the allegations.

However, his identity was revealed after Queensland legislation was modified to allow people accused of sexual offences to be identified before being committed to stand trial.

After the law changed, the former political staffer lost his subsequent bid to seek a non-publication order to continue to protect his identity.

TOOWOOMBA, AUSTRALIA - NCA NewsWire Photos: JANUARY 11, 2023: **SUPPRESSION ORDER IN PLACE-SEEK LEGAL ADVICE BEFORE PUBLISHING** Lawyer Rowan King leaves Toowoomba CourtHouse. A high profile man has been charged with two counts of rape relating to an incident in October 2021. Picture: NewsWire / Sarah Marshall
Members of the media made an application to be present in the courtroom while the complainant was giving evidence during cross-examination. Picture: NewsWire / Sarah Marshall

Lehrmann fronts court

Mr Hoare indicated a single witness – the complainant in the matter – would be cross-examined on Monday.

Mr Hoare told the court the woman would give her evidence from a remote room.

An application by media entities present at court – including News Corp Australia – sought an order allowing media to remain in the courtroom while the complainant gives evidence.

Barrister Jessica Goldie, on behalf of the applicants, 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.

Mr Lehrmann was overheard saying ‘where’s Peter Costello when you need him?’ in reference to an incident involving the former Nine chair earlier this month. Picture: NewsWire / John Gass

She said this necessitated accurate reporting.

The court was told the complainant would still have her identity protected under existing law.

Mr Hoare opposed the application, saying there was a risk the complainant would be identified from her evidence.

“Your Honour sees the topics of cross-examination. They will detail, necessarily, associates of the complainant,” he said.

“There’s no means by which any content of those topics of cross-examination would not have that effect.”

Police prosecutor Nicole Friedewald said the complainant had opposed the application.

“She is not supportive of having the media remain in the courtroom or be linked in with other means,” Ms Friedewald said.

“She wishes to maintain her privacy.”