The ACT Director of Public Prosecution’s (DPP) decision to discontinue the Bruce Lehrmann-Brittany Higgins trial is an extremely rare decision by a prosecuting authority, especially in alleged rape cases.
It was revealed today that the DPP had received expert medical advice that a retrial would pose an unacceptable risk to Brittany Higgins life. She is reported to have been admitted to a hospital in Queensland.
In the weeks and months before trial, Brittany Higgins spoke to the media at large about her alleged rape. She shared the stage with Grace Tame, Australian of the Year, and was interviewed by Lisa Wilkinson which aired on TV before the actual trial took place.
Not a fair trial
Bruce Lehrmann’s defence team raised the prospect that he would not receive a fair trial because of the wide-spread media coverage, spearheaded by Brittany Higgins. Yet the trial went ahead resulting in a mistrial after court security staff found research papers on sexual assault in the jury room.
Denigration of the criminal trial court process
Immediately following the mistrial, in direct contradiction of the presiding judge’s order not to speak about the trial to anyone especially the media Brittany Higgins on leaving the court held a press conference outlining her experiences and in no uncertain terms denigrating the criminal trial court processes and the very essence of our legal system. Further condemnation followed including the defence team intention to recommend Brittany Higgins to local police for contempt of court.
No doubt all these factors have played a part in Brittany Higgins mental health not just the prospect of a retrial. Of course for Bruce Lehrman he will not get his chance to be acquitted of the charge and clear his name. For him justice will not be served. In the same way without a conviction by a jury Brittany Higgins will never have peace of mind. It will be interesting to see what if any further media coverage will be given to this case.