Parliament House rape trial jury unable to reach unanimous verdict

The jury in the trial for Bruce Lehrmann accused of raping Brittany Higgins has left court to go home and “return with fresh minds” tomorrow after saying on Tuesday afternoon it could not reach a unanimous verdict.

Oct 25, 2022, updated Oct 25, 2022
Photo: AAP/Dean Lewins

Photo: AAP/Dean Lewins

Lehrmann has pleaded not guilty to sexual intercourse without consent and is facing a criminal trial in the ACT Supreme Court.

After three days and six hours of deliberations, the jurors sent a note to the court on Tuesday afternoon saying they were “unable to reach a unanimous agreement”.

But Chief Justice Lucy McCallum told them experience shows juries are able to reach a decision if they are given more time.

“I ask you to retire again to see if you can reach a verdict in this trial,” she said.

She said they must calmly and objectively listen to each other’s opinions and try to reach a unanimous decision.

“You cannot join in a verdict if you do not honestly and genuinely think it is the correct one,” she said.

The jurors then indicated they would like to “return with fresh minds” on Wednesday.

Justice McCallum thanked them for their continuing hard work in the trial and asked them to try to relax on Tuesday afternoon by hitting the gym or walking the dog.

“Have a bit of respite from this arduous task that faces you,” she said.

Higgins alleges Lehrmann raped her in the Parliament House office of former defence industry minister Linda Reynolds, for whom they both worked as staffers, in March 2019. He denies any sexual interaction happened.

The jury heard from 29 witnesses over the course of the trial, including coalition senators Reynolds and Michaelia Cash.

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