Bruce Lehrmann’s engagement with media outlets including Seven’s Spotlight program was “inconsistent with the contention that the media pursuit has been relentless” a Queensland magistrate has found.

In rejecting Mr Lehrmann’s application for a suppression order earlier this month, Magistrate Clare Kelly heard submissions that the defendant had himself engaged with media organisations.

That engagement included a two-part series of “bombshell” interviews on Seven’s Spotlight program where he spoke with journalist Liam Bartlett, who declared that “nothing was off limits” in the questions.

However, he also conducted interviews on Sunrise and Sky News.

At the time, Magistrate Kelly noted that Mr Lehrmann was “obviously aware of the current criminal proceedings.”

“In my view, this fact is inconsistent with the contention that the media pursuit has been relentless,’’ Magistrate Kelly said.

“I note the first mention of the charges was in this Court on the 11th of January 2023, with various mentions across the year.

“I note the interviews were aired on the 14th of June and in mid-August. The defendant was obviously aware of the current criminal proceedings at the time of the media interviews and there was also mention, in the interviews, to other Court proceedings being pursued by the defendant.

“In my view, the evidence relied upon does not establish that the order is necessary to protect the safety of the defendant.

“I note that the defendant himself has engaged with media organisations, thereby actively placing himself in public view.”

However, Mr Lehrmann’s legal team submitted that his mental health was precarious and that his identification could have dire consequences.

“I certainly acknowledge there are vulnerabilities to the defendant given the events of the last couple of years,” Magistrate Kelly said.

The Supreme Court and the Magistrates Court heard that a Queensland psychologist Dr Brown was treating Mr Lehrmann.

“However, the defendant is not currently formally linked in with a mental health professional, nor is he prescribed medication relevant to the treatment of the mental health issues,” Magistrate Kelly said.

“That is a decision made by the defendant. And Dr Brown states circumstances of the defendant – being his location, financial circumstances and insecure housing – have contributed to this lack of healthcare.”

Magistrate Kelly heard evidence that there was a heightened risk of self-harm that is consequent to the reaggravation of his condition due to media reporting and the defendant remained at fear of public attack.

He had confided to his treating psychologist thoughts of self-harm.

“Dr Brown commenced assisting the defendant on the 31st of May 2021,’’ she said.

“He did present to hospital, was admitted to it around that time. The symptoms of the psychiatric condition are described in some detail and it is said that the symptoms have a noticeable impact on the defendant’s daily functioning.

“The defendant also exhibits symptoms of anxiety, paragraph 4, on page 1 of the report sets out in some detail the impact of legal proceedings and the media scrutiny have had on the defendant.

“Dr James referred to the fact that the defendant needed to relocate that this made his receiving of proper mental health support difficult and less than ideal and despite encouragement from the doctor the defendant has not secured new health and mental health care.

“Dr Brown said his ability to provide ongoing support and treatment was precarious due to the different location of the defendant.

“The doctor said his concern for the defendant has been alarmed due to the deterioration of his mental state in response to the issue of his identity being made public. He opined that allowing the defendant to be identified in the current matter may result in dire consequences.”

Mr Lehrmann has been charged with two counts of rape after a night out in Toowoomba, Queensland in October, 2021.

The two charges pertain to an alleged incident with a woman Mr Lehrmann met in a nightclub weeks after he appeared in an ACT court over unrelated allegations he raped Brittany Higgins.

That trial collapsed following an allegation of juror misconduct. Mr Lehrmann was never convicted and strongly denied all allegations.

Magistrate Kelly noted that it was contended the jury will inevitably be reminded of the previous proceedings. The contention of the defendant is that the non-publication order is necessary to prevent prejudice to the proper administration of justice.

“The prejudice is said to be because the matter will proceed in Toowoomba the publication of proceedings as in the publication of the defendant’s name has the real potential to infect the potential juror pool with those irrelevant, prejudicial, and otherwise inadmissable pieces of evidence.

“It is contended that this will be because of the extensive pre-trial publicity prior to committal and the content of that publicity, it is said, will not be constrained by any consideration of relevance or admissibility of the facts that are reported.

“It is contended should the defendant be committed for trial in contrast the district court will have control over questions of admissibility and relevance of evidence through ordinary pre-trial procedures.”

Earlier, the court was told there would be a link to the earlier, aborted trial which provoked a “public apology” to his client from the Prime Minister, intense public scrutiny and a broad inquiry.

Earlier, Robert Anderson KC, representing the media outlets, said the high profile man had not given evidence before the court, instead relying on his solicitors and his psychologist.

He noted the man was prepared to go public with certain statements but was “unprepared” to face the court and give evidence himself.

“There is an incredulity between the applicant’s public presentation and what is said by … (his) doctor,” he said.

“The applicant has not said anything to Your Honour directly. He has chosen to stay silent.”

“He has voluntarily placed himself in a very public forum, in a way that will inevitably exposed and require him to explain … all of his circumstances,” Mr Anderson said.

“His lawyers have told him to stay quiet, he has refused that advice. He wants to be heard – everywhere except here.”

— with NCA Newswire

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