Juror who aborted Bruce Lehrmann trial presented two more research papers, judge reveals

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The juror who aborted Bruce Lehrmann’s trial brought two more sexual assault research papers into the jury room, which were discovered after the trial was dropped on Thursday.

The Lehrmann trial collapsed in sensational circumstances on Thursday after it was revealed that a juror had presented a sexual assault research paper, contrary to repeated instructions.

In written reasons released Thursday evening, Chief Justice Lucy McCallum revealed that two more documents had since been found. They were brought by the same juror.

“After the jury’s release, I was informed by sheriff’s officers that the same juror was also in possession of two additional academic papers on the subject of sexual assault,” McCallum wrote in a footnote.

Related: Chance discovery ends Bruce Lehrmann trial for alleged rape of Brittany Higgins

McCallum had told jurors at least 17 times that they should not conduct outside research. The direction was given in clear terms every day of the trial, sometimes repeatedly.

ACT jurors cannot be punished for such misconduct. There is no offense available to the courts to impose sentences on jurors who make their own inquiries into the case.

This puts the ACT at odds with New South Wales, where jurors can be fined if they “make an inquiry for the purpose of obtaining information about the accused, or any matter relevant to the trial”.

Lehrmann now faces the prospect of a retrial in February 2023 in the ACT Supreme Court. A video recording of Brittany Higgins’ testimony and cross-examination may be used for any retrial, although the defense team may request that she testify in person.

The first trial heard from 29 witnesses over nearly three weeks, and the jury took another week to deliberate.

The first research paper uncovered by sheriff’s officers attempted to quantify the prevalence of false sexual assault complaints. It also included an analysis of the reasons for false complaints and why some are skeptical of real complaints. McCallum said the document could have been used to sway jurors back and forth in the case.

“At the very least, the fact that the document was located and brought into the jury room by the juror indicates that it may have influenced that juror’s contribution to the jury’s deliberations,” McCallum said. “The injustice towards both parties is manifest.”

Lehrmann is accused of raping Higgins in the early hours of March 23, 2019 in Parliament. He pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual intercourse without consent.

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