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Former federal Liberal Party staffer Bruce Lehrmann can be identified as the high-profile man charged with raping a woman in Toowoomba in October 2021.
The charges relate to an alleged incident with a woman Lehrmann met in a nightclub only weeks after he first appeared in a Canberra court over unrelated allegations he raped Brittany Higgins in Parliament House.
Bruce Lehrmann has this month been fighting in several courts to keep his identity secret.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen
While the Toowoomba matter is still in its early stages, before a magistrate, Lehrmann has this month been fighting in several courts to keep his identity secret. Changes to Queensland laws, which came into effect on October 3, allow alleged rapists to be named before they are committed to stand trial.
It was in November 2021 that the woman in Toowoomba made a complaint about the alleged rape, telling police she had read about Lehrmann online in the weeks after the incident. She told police they initially had consensual sex but that Lehrmann later removed a condom without her permission and raped her twice.
In the Canberra matter, Lehrmann was committed to stand trial in November 2021. However, the trial was later aborted, and a retrial scrapped due to concerns over Higgins’ mental health.
Lehrmann, 28, has declared his innocence in both matters. Questions around his mental health have been aired in the Toowoomba matter and, specifically, whether being publicly identified would put him at further risk.
The Toowoomba matter has been heard in local court on several occasions since January this year, when Lehrmann was charged. During early proceedings, prosecutors sought to examine 19 months of phone data from the complainant from before and after the alleged offence. Prosecutor Nicole Friedewald said the phone data ran to “many thousands of pages”.
Lehrmann’s identity was initially withheld from publication to comply with Queensland sex crime laws that only allowed disclosure if, or when, the accused was committed to stand trial.
While the case is still in the pre-committal stage, the laws have seen various alleged rapists named in the media and Lehrmann’s lawyers obtained an interim non-publication order to keep his identity a secret.
At the time, Lehrmann’s lawyers raised concerns over his mental health, however the prosecutor argued there was insufficient detail of the risks and the alleged victim supported the media being able to name him.
On Thursday in Brisbane, Supreme Court Justice Peter Applegarth dismissed Lehrmann’s application for a judicial review, allowing him to be publicly identified as the alleged Toowoomba rapist.
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