Lehrmann trial jury 'inclined to convict', inquiry told
A juror who brought in material which derailed Bruce Lehrmann's rape trial was the same person who was holding out from reaching a guilty conviction, an independent inquiry has been told.
The inquiry, set up by the ACT government last year, is examining how the territory's criminal justice system handled Brittany Higgins' rape allegations against Mr Lehrmann.
Mr Lehrmann, who denies the allegations, faced a criminal trial in the ACT Supreme Court last October.
But a mistrial was declared after it was discovered a juror had conducted their own research in relation to the case and had taken the document into the jury deliberation room.
Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold told the inquiry that from his observations in court at the time, there was one juror who was holding out but the rest of the jury was inclined to convict Mr Lehrmann.
Asked if the misconduct in the trial was committed by the same juror who he had perceived as "holding out" from reaching a conviction, Mr Drumgold said it was.
This was also part of the reason why Mr Drumgold initially sought to retrial the matter, but he ultimately dropped the charges against Mr Lehrmann because of the impact a second trial would have on Ms Higgins' mental health.
Earlier, Mr Drumgold admitted he was wrong to allege political interference in the trial and said instead a "skills deficit" on the part of police investigators affected the case.
The prosecutor had previously told the inquiry he was concerned by "strange events" over the course of the investigation and trial that had led him to believe there was a political interest in the prosecution's failure.
But on Thursday he said on reflection, and having read submissions to the inquiry, he believed the police who investigated the matter had a skills deficit.
Asked by inquiry chair Walter Sofronoff whether his suspicions about political interference preventing the case going ahead had been incorrect, Mr Drumgold said: "I do accept that."
"My current view, having read all of the police statements, is it was most likely a skills deficit on the part of the investigators as a group, including senior police," he said.
Mr Drumgold said there were tensions between his office and police about the credibility of Ms Higgins but he believed many of the points raised by officers were not admissible in court.
Police attitudes during the investigation also led Mr Drumgold to believe they had deliberately provided a brief containing Ms Higgins' counselling notes to Mr Lehrmann's defence team but he now believed it was "probably error".
Mr Drumgold said statements from police to the inquiry have concerned him, particularly what officers believe are the standard of proof tests required to charge someone.
"A couple of (officers) have enunciated some words that include 'probable cause' which is a term that one might see on a police (television) show because it comes from a (US) constitutional amendment," he said.
"Probable cause is not known to me, at least in Australian law, so it seems that there's a lot of words getting around (and) applied in different formats but it's still very unclear what the actual test being applied is."
Officers from ACT Policing and the Australian Federal Police are expected to give evidence to the inquiry, as well as Mr Lehrmann's defence lawyer and journalist Lisa Wilkinson.