Bruce Lehrmann was spotted chatting on the phone at Sydney Airport in his first public appearance since his sexual assault charge was dropped.
Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins had alleged Mr Lehrmann, a colleague at the time, had raped her inside minister Linda Reynolds’ Parliament office in March 2019 – an allegation he has continuously denied.
After a first trial collapsed due to jury misconduct, a second had been scheduled to go ahead next year – but the charge was dropped on Friday after warnings it could put a dangerous strain on Ms Higgins’ mental health.
Mr Lehrmann wore a black face mask, a Ralph Lauren vest, dark pants and brown boots as he wheeled his luggage through the airport on Friday.
He was seen without his usual glasses as he spoke on the phone while carrying a brown bag, along with a black suitcase.
Earlier that day, ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold SC had made his announcement that the case would no longer be pursued.
Bruce Lehrmann was spotted chatting 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 is seen glancing down at his phone while in Sydney on Friday
Earlier on Friday, ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold SC announced the case against Mr Lehrmann would be dropped for the sake of Brittany Higgins and her mental health
Mr Lehrmann had been due to face a retrial in February, after the first trial was abandoned in October.
It has now emerged that police believed there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Mr Lehrmann after he was accused of sexual assault by Ms Higgins, according to diary notes made by the most senior police officer on the case.
ACT Police Manager of Criminal Investigations Detective Superintendent Scott Moller claimed in his notes that Mr Drumgold had decided to push on with the case regardless.
He wrote down a conversation where superintendent Moller and his boss, ACT Deputy Chief Police Officer Michael Chew, warned Mr Drumgold about proceeding.
Mr Lehrmann was seen in Sydney on Friday, having spent time in Canberra for the trial
Mr Lehrmann will now not have to face another trial after sexual assault charges against him were dropped
Police believed there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Bruce Lehrmann after he was accused of sexual assault by Brittany Higgins, according to diary notes made by the most senior police officer on the case
Mr Lehrmann had been accused of raping Ms Higgins in minister Linda Reynolds’ Parliament office in March 2019 – an allegation he has continuously denied
Superintendent Moller claimed there was ‘insufficient evidence’ while Mr Chew said he wouldn’t proceed with the case if it was up to him, The Australian reported.
‘DCPO stated ”if it was my choice I wouldn’t proceed. But it’s not my choice. There is too much political interference”,’ detective superintendent Moller wrote.
‘I said: ”That’s disappointing given I think there is insufficient evidence”.’
It has also been revealed that police unlawfully gave Ms Higgins’ protected evidence to Mr Lehrmann’s original defence lawyers on a USB in September 2021 – with the team insisting they did not open the material.
Psychological counselling notes and a video of the police interview with Ms Higgins were among the protected evidence unlawfully sent to Mr Lehrmann’s legal team, news.com.au reported.
The lawyers that received the information were later replaced by barrister Steve Whybrow – who did not receive the documents.
The release of the sensitive material prompted Mr Drumgold to label it a ‘serious’ issue and demanded police retrieve it.
He asked superintendent Moller to make sure the USB was examined to verify claims made by Mr Lehrmann’s lawyers at the time they had not accessed the information.
‘Noting 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 appears the least the AFP could do is send someone over to collect it. And my suggestion is that if and when you get it back you have the metadata examined to ensure sensitive documents have not been accessed or copied.’
ACT Police Manager of Criminal Investigations Detective Superintendent Scott Moller (pictured) claimed in his notes that the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold SC had decided to push on with the case regardless
Mr Drumgold announced on Friday the case against Mr Lehrmann would be dropped for the sake of Ms Higgins and her mental health
Superintendent Moller expanded on his concerns of ‘insufficient evidence’ written in his diary notes in an executive briefing in 2021.
He claimed investigators held ‘serious concerns in relation to the strength and reliability of [Ms Higgins’] evidence but also more importantly her mental health and how any future prosecution may affect her wellbeing’.
Senior police aired 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 one, and joking about wanting a ‘sex scandal’.
A police report had claimed that Ms Higgins refused to hand over her phone at the request of authorities in February, 2021.
She then gave her device to police in May when they discovered Ms Higgins and her former boyfriend Ben Dillaway had joked about wanting a sex scandal.
Ms Higgins refusal to hand in her mobile phone, deliberately deleted messages from a second one, and joked about wanting a ‘sex scandal’ were among the concerns aired by investigators at an executive briefing
The messages were sent on February 9, 2019, six weeks before Ms Higgins alleged she was raped by Mr Lehrmann.
‘The bar for what counts as a political sex scandal nowadays is REALLY low,’ Ms Higgins wrote.
‘I want a sex scandal I can be like whoa. Impressive. Didn’t think he had it in him,’ Mr Dillaway wrote.
‘Exactly! A sex scandal the party can be proud of. Another Barnaby but without the baby haha,’ Ms Higgins responded.
Superintendent Moller met Ms Higgins in July 2021 to update her about the investigation and questioned her about a text she sent her boyfriend David Sharaz.
Ms Higgins had sent the text to Mr Sharaz on May 21 saying she was ‘clearing out her phone ahead of the police’ and sent him an audio file.
Superintendent Moller said Ms Higgins explained the audio files were recorded conversations with ministers and that Ms Higgins didn’t want police to find them as she feared she had committed an offence by recording them.