Chief Justice Lucy McCallum has discharged the jury on the Bruce Lehrmann trial after it was revealed a juror committed misconduct.
The jury had spent over five days deliberating the findings of the trial, unable to reach a unanimous verdict but today it was revealed that one of the jurors had access to information that was not part of court evidence.
“It has come to my attention that one of you has, contrary to directions, undertaken research in relation to an issue in the case,” she said.
“That material has entered the jury room which ought not to have.
“I have had an explanation and it may be no harm has been done but that is a risk I can’t take.”
Justice McCallum was alerted to the incident when a security officer had found a research paper while doing a routine tidy up.
“Sometimes there is a mishap which…results in a miscarriage of a trial. That’s what’s happened here,” she said.
Earlier, she had implored jurors to not undertake their own research but to base their verdict on evidence and information presented in the trial.
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With this revelation, Justice McCallum said she was left with no choice but to dismiss the jury and declare the case a mistrial but thanked everybody for their efforts.
“This may come as a frustration to you after the hard work you all put in, and I want to convey my extreme gratitude. I don’t want you to leave court thinking this has been a waste of time.”
Bruce Lehrmann was accused of raping former colleague and Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins in 2019. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Justice McCallum has set a re-trial date for February 20, 2023 and outlined several conditions for Mr Lehrmann to adhere to.
Until the trial, Mr Lehrmann is not allowed to contact Ms Higgins or her partner David Sharaz, as well as her parents Matthew and Kelly Higgins.
He also has to advise the Australian Federal Police (AFP) of his residential address and if he plans to travel overseas in this time, he must let the AFP know two-weeks in advance and provide them with an itinerary.