Identity of high-profile man accused of Toowoomba rape to remain secret after new interim order

Identity of high-profile man accused of Toowoomba rape to remain secret after new interim order

By Zuleihat Owuiye, Mamos Nigeria

The identity of a high-profile man accused of rape will remain secret for at least another week after he was granted a new interim order despite his solicitors failing to comply with previous court directions.

The man, who remains on bail, faces two counts of raping a woman at Toowoomba, west of Brisbane.

Toowoomba magistrates court on Thursday heard an application for an interim order preventing media outlets identifying him. Queensland changed its laws on today no longer suppress the names of people charged with sexual offences before being committed for trial.

Magistrate Kay Philipson criticised the man’s legal team for seeking a similar order in the supreme court last week without telling her, for not following a direction to provide notice for the new application and not providing supporting material in a timely manner.

“There was no courtesy … we’re a very busy court here and it’s very hard to fit these matters in,” she said.

Queensland’s new laws did not require Philipson to consider the merits of granting a permanent non-publication order on the man’s name, but his solicitor Rowan King told the court his client’s mental health was at risk if he was named by the media.

King submitted a letter from the man’s psychologist who had been seeing him monthly via telehealth.

Philipson said there was nothing in the letter to support those claims.

“This is nothing more than a letter of comfort, there’s nothing on how the psychologist arrived at that diagnosis nor what effects of being identified will be and how they are going to impact on him,” she said.

King said he had hoped to submit a more substantive report on his client’s health but it had not been ready on time.

Crown prosecutor Nicole Friedewald said she opposed granting the interim order.

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She told the court the alleged victim supported the media being able to name the accused.

Philipson said she needed to weigh up the public interest and principle of open justice versus any special vulnerabilities of the alleged victim and defendant as well as the potential to prejudice any future trial.

“These matters in my view need proper consideration in a final application and there was an inability to have made such an application before the new legislation came in,” Philipson said.

Philipson granted an interim non-publication order until an application on a permanent order could be heard on 13 October.

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