‘A bit unbalanced’: Top officer grilled

3 minutes, 55 seconds Read

The top cop who oversaw the investigation into Brittany Higgins’ rape allegation has been grilled on why he left out of his report that investigating officers believed Bruce Lehrmann’s own account of the night was “implausible”.

Mr Lehrmann has never been convicted of rape and the charge was dropped after the first trial was aborted. He maintains his innocence.

A powerful inquiry led by Walter Sofronoff KC, which is probing the investigation and prosecution of Mr Lehrmann, heard evidence on Monday from Detective Superintendent Scott Moller, who oversaw the investigation.

He is the author of part of a series of documents that has become known as “the Moller report”, which included claims that police regarded Ms Higgins as “evasive” and “manipulative”.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Shane Drumgold, has raised concerns that the AFP documents “cherrypicked” evidence to focus on Ms Higgins’ credibility rather than focusing on Mr Lehrmann’s inconsistencies.

Bruce Lehrmann. Picture: Martin Ollman/NCA NewsWireBruce Lehrmann. Picture: Martin Ollman/NCA NewsWire

‘Question is why?’

It was an issue the Chairman of the Inquiry Walter Sofronoff KC honed in on during evidence on Monday from Supt Moller, and he asked whether it was “a bit unbalanced” to focus on the complainant.

“I guess the question is why?’’ Mr Sofronoff said.

“In your summary of the evidence.. .you look at one side of the case and not the other side?

“Because both sides of the case bear upon whether the thing should go ahead.

“That is, isn’t it a bit unbalanced or artificial, to look at the credit of a complainant without also looking at the plausibility of what the proposed possible defendant has said?”

Supt Moller defended his “nutshell” account, noting there was more information in the investigation review that was attached.

“But do you accept that your executive briefing does not engage with the alleged lies of Mr. Lehrmann?’’ counsel assisting Joshua Jones asked.

Det Supt Moller conceded that was the case.

“I don’t mention the alleged lies of Mr Lehrmann in my report,’’ Mr Moller said.

AFP investigation: Lehrmann account ‘implausible’

Counsel assisting Joshua Jones then asked if Supt Moller also accepted that he didn’t include the views of police that Mr Lehrmann’s account of the night was “implausible”.

“Nowhere in your letter or (Detective Marcus) Boorman’s minute does it detail investigators’ opinion that Mr Lehrmann’s record of conversation account was ‘implausible’?” Mr Jones said.

“It’s not noted in either of the two minutes. I agree with that,’’ Mr Moller replied.

Mr Sofronoff asked if the tenor of the document was that it was a “one-sided” way of looking at a rape case, and wondered if it might be explained by “old fashioned views”.

Brittany Higgins. Picture: David Gray/AFPBrittany Higgins. Picture: David Gray/AFP

Fears Higgins would tip off the media

Supt Moller also revealed police were concerned that if they told Ms Higgins they were about to charge Mr Lehrmann, she would brief the media before it happened.

As a result they did not follow normal procedure and instead waited to tell her until very shortly after he was summonsed to appear in court.

“There was concern Ms Higgins would go to the media prior to the summons being served,’’ he said.

“But why did you not mention those matters if you are giving a summary or a nutshell? Don’t both parts belong in your document?”

Mr Moller said his view at the time was that it would be read together.

“The parts I’ve highlighted were the parts that caused me, I suppose, the most concern,’’ he said.

Police on stress leave

Supt Moller told Mr Sofronoff KC that the stress was so bad some police went on medical leave and some have not returned.

“The stress of the investigation affected a lot of police,” he said.

“A number of police that worked for me, have been unable to return to work as a result of the stresses in this investigation and at the time.

“Detective Sergeant Rose was one person who hadn’t been involved in it before and because of a number of members going off sick, I brought him in to manage that process for us at that stage because we didn’t have anyone else because they’d gone off, they’d been sick.”

Similar Posts