Lehrmann trial juror ‘deeply sorry’ for misconduct
Maeve Bannister |
The juror who caused a mistrial in Bruce Lehrmann’s rape trial was “deeply sorry” for their actions, new documents reveal.
Mr Lehrmann faced a criminal trial in the ACT Supreme Court last year over a rape allegation made by his former colleague Brittany Higgins.
He denies the allegation and pleaded not guilty.
During the October trial, jury deliberations had been going for five days and jurors had not yet reached a verdict.
But ACT Chief Justice Lucy McCallum was forced to discharge the entire jury after it was discovered a juror had conducted their own research in relation to the case and had taken the document into the deliberation room.
An inquiry into how the territory justice system handled Ms Higgins’ allegations has released the transcript from a private hearing where the chief justice questioned the juror.
The documents were discovered by sheriff’s officers who tidied the jury room each night.
The juror admitted they had conducted their own research to “clarify a point” for themselves.
“I brought it in to show where the clarification came from and we agreed that … because it was research that it shouldn’t be discussed and I didn’t, we have not discussed it,” the juror said.
Chief Justice McCallum said despite this explanation, the fact the juror had accessed the material that was not part of the evidence in the trial and it had been brought in the deliberation room meant she would have to discharge the entire jury.
The juror said they were “deeply sorry” for this.
“Can I say I give you my sincere apologies. I wasn’t aware that … doing this was in any sense a wrongdoing,” they said.
“I was just purely doing, finding out what it meant, certain words, and in case I mentioned it to the jury, I want to make sure that I wasn’t inventing anything.
“No one has read it, no one knows anything about it. I just thought I would mention that.”
Chief Justice McCallum took steps to protect the anonymity of the juror, who said they were “willing to take the responsibility” for the misconduct.
But the chief justice reminded the juror it would be an offence for them to disclose the deliberations and she would prefer to preserve their anonymity.
ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold last week told the inquiry that from his court observations, 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.
But defence lawyer Steven Whybrow told the inquiry his team believed 10 of the jurors were in favour of an acquittal and that trying to interpret a jury’s views was “just guessing”.AAP