Lawyers for a high-profile man charged with rape have hinted they will attempt to keep their client’s identity suppressed, if new laws allowing the identification of people charged with sexual assault are passed.
The sudden move was revealed by lawyer Rowan King during a brief mention of the man’s matter at Toowoomba Magistrates Court on Wednesday morning.
Detectives from the Toowoomba Criminal Investigation Branch charged the man with two counts of rape in January.
Police allege the charges relate to the man raping a woman in Toowoomba in October 2021.
Toowoomba Magistrates Court has already been told the pair were not known to each other prior to the offence date.
Due to laws in Queensland preventing the identification of people charged with sexual assault or rape offences until they stand trial, the man cannot be named or formally identified.
The state government has announced they will be scrapping this law, with new legislation due to be considered by parliament in September.
On Wednesday, Mr King told the court he intended to make an application to keep his client’s name anonymised.
“It’s intended that in the next 2-3 weeks there will be legislation coming in which will potentially allow the naming of my client,” he said.
“It’s intended we make an application to maintain the suppression of my client’s name from publication.
“At this stage it’s unclear whether or not that legislation will apply in these circumstances, where there had been an indication the complainant wasn’t wanting the defendant’s name released.“
Magistrate Kay Philipson said making the application now would be “premature” until the legislation is amended.
“If you want to make such an application, it can’t be heard in the arrests court in this case,” she said.
“We’re too busy.”
A full forensic download of the complainant’s phone – described as being “quite important” to the defence case – had been requested at an earlier appearance.
The request itself was for messages six months prior to the offence date.
Sarah Dreghorn, acting for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), said police had provided the download for prosecutors to make a consideration on the “relevant disclosure obligations”.
“That’s still 19 months worth of phone download,” Ms Dreghorn said.
Ms Philipson adjourned the man’s matter until September 20.
A forensic medical report (FMO) had been previously disclosed to Mr King upon request.
Earlier this year several media organisations, including News Corp Australia, unsuccessfully applied to the court seeking permission to name the man in the proceedings.
That application remains before the courts.