A high-profile man accused of raping a woman in Queensland can now be identified as Bruce Lehrmann.
Mr Lehrmann was charged with two counts of rape in January this year following an alleged incident at a property in Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, in October 2021.
Two months earlier, in August 2021, he was also charged with rape following allegations he sexually assaulted Brittany Higgins in Parliament House two years prior.
He pleaded not guilty in the ACT Supreme Court and maintains he had no sexual interaction with Ms Higgins.
He could not be named or pictured in January, when he was charged over the alleged Toowoomba incident, because laws in Queensland banned the media from publicly identifying alleged sex offenders unless the matter was committed to trial.
Those laws were overturned last month, but Mr Lehrmann’s lawyers applied for a non-publication order.
Bruce Lehrmann (pictured) is pictured in October last year
In August 2021, Bruce Lehrmann was charged with rape following allegations that he sexually assaulted Brittany Higgins (pictured, centre, outside court). He denied the allegations
On October 13, Toowoomba magistrate Clare Kelly was about to lift the suppression order, but Mr Lehrmann’s lawyers intervened and said they would challenge the decision with a judicial review.
On Thursday, Supreme Court judge Peter Applegarth scrapped the order – despite Mr Lehrmann’s barrister Andrew Hoare arguing in court that his client was at increased risk of ‘catastrophic’ self-harm, including suicide, if identified.
Justice Applegarth said a high risk of self-harm did not mean a non-publication order was necessary.
‘What can one make of the state of the defendant’s psychology at the moment, and what protective measures are available to him to reduce that identified risk?’ the judge said.
‘I dare say many people who are facing the criminal justice system are having suicidal ideations … the existence of suicidal ideations is not necessarily sufficient to establish the level of unacceptable risk (to justify) a non-publication order.’
He questioned whether a non-publication would impact other people’s rights – including the media and members of the public.
‘Absent this order, someone can come into the public gallery of the Toowoomba Magistrates Court, and hear what goes on and report it when they go home to someone when they’re having dinner,’ Justice Applegarth said.
Bruce Lehrmann (pictured) guilty in the ACT Supreme Court and maintains that he had no sexual interaction with Ms Higgins
‘(And) a large media entity, small media entity, a reporter from the Toowoomba Chronicle has the right to report matters, including identifying matters (of) the defendant.’
He said that if an order was made, media organisations would lose that right.
The alleged victim claimed she met Mr Lehrmann on a night out that began when she joined friends at the Powerhouse music venue in Toowoomba.
After drinking with friends, she then went to a strip club called The Vault, where she consumed more alcohol and met Mr Lehrmann.
Mr Lehrmann allegedly introduced himself as ‘Bryce’, reports News.com.au.
Later, police allege the woman took a taxi with Mr Lehrmann to his friend’s house.
They had sex once that night and twice in the morning, but the woman alleges the last two times were not consensual because he allegedly wasn’t wearing a condom.
Failing to wear a condom without a partner’s permission is considered sexual assault under Queensland law.
Six weeks later, the woman was browsing on her phone when she saw Mr Lehrmann’s photo and recognised him as the same person who allegedly had sex with her.
The woman reported the matter to police the next day before making a formal statement. Lehrmann was charged with two counts of rape on January 10.
It will be alleged in court that the pair spoke on Snapchat for a few days after the encounter, but soon lost contact.
Police will allege they have CCTV footage from the club showing the pair leaving together, and evidence that the man booked a taxi.
Bruce Lehrmann (pictured) was charged with raping a woman in Toowoomba in 2021