Bruce Lehrmann was spotted talking on the phone at Sydney Airport in his first public appearance since his assault charges were dropped.
Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins had alleged that Mr Lehrmann, a colleague at the time, raped her inside the Parliamentary Office of Minister Linda Reynolds in March 2019 – a claim he has consistently denied.
After a first trial failed due to jury misconduct, a second was scheduled for next year – but the charges were dropped on Friday after warnings it could put dangerous strain on Ms Higgins’ mental health.
Mr Lehrmann wore a black face mask, a Ralph Lauren vest, dark trousers and brown boots as he wheeled his luggage through the airport on Friday.
He was seen without his usual glasses while talking on the phone while carrying a brown bag and black briefcase.
Earlier that day, ACT Director of Public Prosecutions, Shane Drumgold SC, had announced that the case would no longer be pursued.
Bruce Lehrmann was spotted on the phone while donning a Ralph Lauren vest at Sydney Airport in his first public appearance since his sexual assault charge was dropped
Mr Lehrmann looks at his phone while in Sydney on Friday
Earlier on Friday, ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold SC announced that the case against Mr Lehrmann would be dropped in the interests of Brittany Higgins and her mental health
Mr Lehrmann was due to face a new trial in February, after the first trial was halted in October.
It has now emerged that police believed there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Mr Lehrmann after he was charged with assault by Ms Higgins, according to senior police officer diary entries on the case.
ACT Police Manager of Criminal Investigations Detective Superintendent Scott Moller claimed in his notes that Mr Drumgold had nevertheless decided to proceed with the case.
He recorded a conversation in which Superintendent Moller and his boss, ACT Deputy Chief of Police Michael Chew, warned Mr. Drumgold to move on.
Mr Lehrmann was seen in Sydney on Friday, having spent time in Canberra for the trial
Mr. Lehrmann now does not have to be tried again after the assault charges against him were dropped
Police believed there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Bruce Lehrmann after he was charged with sexual assault by Brittany Higgins, according to senior police officer diary entries in the case
Mr Lehrmann was accused of raping Ms Higgins in the parliament office of Minister Linda Reynolds in March 2019 – an accusation he has consistently denied
Superintendent Moller claimed there was ‘insufficient evidence’, while Mr Chew said he would not pursue the case if it were up to him. The Australian reported.
DCPO stated ”if it was my choice, I wouldn’t continue. But it’s not my choice. There is too much political interference,” wrote Chief Detective Moller.
“I said, ‘That’s disappointing given that I don’t think there’s enough evidence’.”
It has also been revealed that in September 2021, police unlawfully gave Ms Higgins’ protected evidence on a USB stick to Mr Lehrmann’s original lawyers – with the team insisting they did not open the material.
Psychological counseling notes and a video of the police interview with Ms Higgins were among the protected evidence illegally sent to Mr Lehrmann’s legal team. news.com.au reported.
The lawyers who received the information were later replaced by lawyer Steve Whybrow – who did not receive the documents.
The release of the sensitive material led Mr Drumgold to label it a ‘serious’ problem and demanded that the police retrieve it.
He asked Inspector Moller to ensure that the USB was investigated to verify claims made by Mr Lehrmann’s lawyers at the time that they did not have access to the information.
He notes that he is still in possession of highly sensitive and protected information. Is he going to return the memory stick to the AFP?’ he said.
“It seems the least the AFP can do is send someone to collect it. And my suggestion is that if and when you get it back, have the metadata examined to make sure sensitive documents haven’t been opened or copied.”
ACT Police Manager of Criminal Investigations Detective Superintendent Scott Moller (pictured) claimed in his notes that ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold SC had decided to proceed with the case anyway
Mr Drumgold announced on Friday that the case against Mr Lehrmann would be dropped in the interests of Ms Higgins and her mental health
Superintendent Moller addressed his concerns about “insufficient evidence” written in his diary entries in an executive briefing in 2021.
He claimed that researchers had “serious concerns about the strength and reliability of [Ms Higgins’] evidence, but also, more importantly, her mental health and how any future prosecution may affect her well-being.”
Senior police raised a number of concerns about the case during the executive briefing.
Their concerns included Ms Higgins refusing to hand in her mobile phone, deliberately deleting messages from a second and joking about wanting a ‘sex scandal’.
A police report alleged that in February 2021 Ms Higgins refused to hand over her phone at the request of authorities.
She then gave her device to police in May when they discovered Ms Higgins and her ex-boyfriend Ben Dillaway had joked about wanting a sex scandal.
Ms Higgins’s refusal to hand over her mobile phone, deliberately deleting messages from a second and making jokes about wanting a ‘sex scandal’ were some of the concerns raised by investigators at a briefing by the management.
The messages were sent on February 9, 2019, six weeks before Ms Higgins claimed she had been raped by Mr Lehrmann.
“The bar for what today counts as a political sex scandal is REALLY low,” Ms. Higgins wrote.
“I want a sex scandal, I can be like that. Impressive. Didn’t think he had it in him,” Mr Dillaway wrote.
‘Precisely! A sex scandal that the party can be proud of. Another Barnaby but without the baby haha,” Mrs Higgins replied.
Chief Inspector Moller met Ms Higgins in July 2021 to update her on the investigation and questioned her about a text message she sent her boyfriend David Sharaz.
Ms Higgins had texted Mr Sharaz on 21 May saying she was ‘cleaning up her phone before the police come out’ and sent him an audio file.
Superintendent Moller said Ms Higgins explained that the audio files were taped conversations with ministers and that Ms Higgins did not want police to find them, fearing she had committed an offense by recording them.