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Bruce Lehrmann’s legal woes stack up with Qld case, rental damage

Bruce Lehrmann arrives at court in Toowoomba

Source: X/Tobi Loftus

Bruce Lehrmann has once again been back in a courtroom, this time in regional Queensland – but his legal woes extend even beyond another alleged rape.

On Monday, the one-time Liberal Party staffer pushed his way through a media scrum to get into Toowoomba Magistrates Court for a committal hearing.

It was his first appearance in court over the alleged rape of a woman in 2021.

He faces two charges of rape, to which Lehrmann’s lawyers are expected next month to make a “no case to answer” application.

Defence barrister Andrew Hoare KC provided a 12-page outline of submissions on Monday. He told the court the defence would make submissions ‘‘in respect of the sufficiency of the evidence to place my client on trial’’.

An oral submission arguing Lehmann has no case to answer is expected when the hearing resumes on July 4.

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Bruce Lehrmann has faced a Toowoomba court on rape charges. Photo: AAP

Lehrmann’s case in Toowoomba

Lehrmann, 29, faces two counts of raping a woman at Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, in October 2021. He denies the allegations and the alleged victim has not been named.

The committal hearing

On Monday, Magistrate Mark Howden denied an application for journalists to remain in the courtroom while the alleged victim gave her evidence.

Howden said granting the application would be prejudicial against Lehrmann. He acknowledged the “public interest”, but insisted the “matter ought to proceed in the ordinary way”.

The woman testified remotely.

Crown prosecutor Nicole Friedewald handed up a list of exhibits, at least 14 witness statements, and witnesses, including a police detective and multiple officers.

Media denied access

Earlier, Jessica Goldie, a barrister for News Corp, the ABC and Nine Network, applied for journalists to remain in the courtroom while the woman gave her evidence.

Goldie said the level of public interest surrounding the case justified the media being allowed to remain in the courtroom, to ensure reporting was fair and accurate.

But her application was opposed by Hoare as well as the crown prosecutor and the woman involved.

The application was ultimately denied by Howden and the packed public gallery was cleared.

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The owner of this luxury rental is seeking nearly $20,000 from Lehrmann. Photo: Realestate.com.au

Lehrmann’s landlord

The Toowoomba case is not Lehrmann’s only ongoing legal battle.

Last week, a NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal conciliation hearing was told that Lehrmann caused more than $13,000 worth of damage to a rental property in Sydney’s northern beaches.

The multimillion-dollar Balgowlah property was rented to Lehrmann for 12 months, with the Seven Network picking up the $100,000 bill in return for his exclusive interview on its Spotlight program.

Details of his rental deal with Seven were revealed during his defamation trial against Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson.

The Balgowlah property

Lehrmann rented the three-bedroom, three-bathroom property in Balgowlah last year.

The house is owned by Gaenor Meakes, who is the wife of champion yachtsman Mark Richards. He is best known for his long run as skipper of Wild Oats XI, the nine-time line honours winner at the annual Sydney-Hobart yacht race.

Meakes claims Lehrmann left $13,250 in damage when he moved out. Additionally, because he vacated the property three weeks early, she is short $6000 in rent.

Family didn’t know Lehrmann was the tenant

Lehrmann did not attend the tribunal session, nor did Meakes.

But her daughter, Matilda Meakes, did and she was asked if the family knew who their tenant was.

“I don’t think anyone would willingly rent to him, would they?” she said.

There was no agreement at last week’s brief hearing. Proceedings in the dispute will continue on June 27.

Bruce Lehrmann (left) departs the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney, Monday, April 15, 2024. Federal Court Justice Michael Lee has found Bruce Lehrmann most likely raped Brittany Higgins in Parliament House, losing the 28-year-old a defamation lawsuit brought against Network 10.

Bruce Lehrmann faces a multimillion-dollar bill after losing his defamation case. Photo: AAP

Lehrmann’s appeal

Back in 2021, Brittany Higgins made the explosive allegations she was raped in Parliament House by a colleague.

She was interviewed by news.com.au and Network Ten’s The Project – and Lehrmann was not named at the time.

He has always denied the allegations he raped Higgins. His criminal case in the ACT ended in a mistrial with prosecutors withdrawing the charge and abandoning a retrial amid concern for Higgins’ mental health.

In November 2023, Lehrmann started defamation proceedings against Wilkinson and Ten, alleging he was easily identifiable in the interviews.

In April this year, Justice Michael Lee dismissed the lawsuit. He found that, to the civil standard of the balance of probabilities, Lehrmann did rape Higgins in 2019.

A month later, Lehrmann filed an appeal against Lee’s judgment. The court previously heard that he had no financial backers in his legal battles and his lawyers had worked on a no-win, no-fee basis.

His appeal came after the Federal Court ordered him to pay Ten and Wilkinson’s legal bills on an indemnity basis. He is expected to face a multimillion-dollar legal bill to cover those costs.

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