Bombshell twist in 7 stars’ rape, torture case

Judge gavel and scale in court. Legal concept
A magistrate has raised serious questions about witness statements in the case against two Channel 7 stars.

A major twist has emerged in the case against two Channel 7 identities facing a raft of abuse-related charges, including rape and torture, after a complainant admitted to lying in her statement.

The bombshell development in the case against the man and woman – who cannot be identified – emerged during a directions hearing at Richlands Magistrates Court in Brisbane on Wednesday.

The pair – who appeared together on a prominent Channel 7 show – were charged in August 2023.

Both are facing serious charges, including multiple counts of rape, torture and assault occasioning bodily harm.

Channel 7
A man and woman who starred on a prominent Channel 7 program are facing multiple abuse-related offences, with the woman facing up to nine counts of rape and 23 counts of common assault. Picture: NewsWire / Nicki Connolly

During Wednesday’s hearing, magistrate Stuart Shearer identified issues with statements the complainants in the case had given to police.

Referencing the complainants’ statements, he said one had claimed she never saw any of the alleged offending and it did not happen, while another was sticking by her story.

“One of the others … says everything I told police was a lie, and it was instigated by (another complainant),” Mr Shearer said.

“Isn’t that an appropriate case where she ought to be cross-examined at large?

“Why wouldn’t I give leave for that when two of these people have said none of it happened (and) it’s a lie, and one’s gone to the extent of giving an additional statement to say, ‘I made it all up under pressure from (another complainant)’?”

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Tom Wirawan said police had consented to the aforementioned complainant being cross-examined.

Barrister Simon Lewis – representing the man – told the court that he had identified 27 areas to cover during his cross-examination.

“The problem is in a case as convoluted as this, in the way the statements have been taken, it’s difficult to work out at this end of the bar table what the prosecution are going to seek to rely on when the time comes,” Mr Lewis said.

The identities of the pair cannot be revealed after a court granted a sweeping non-publication order of the woman’s identity last year. Picture: NewsWire
The identities of the pair cannot be revealed after a court granted a sweeping non-publication order of the woman’s identity last year. Picture: NewsWire

But Mr Shearer said many of the statements relied on “hearsay”, questioning their admissibility.

“I’ve been wondering since day one what the particulars of 15 years of torture are,” he said.

A committal hearing was set down for September 13.

Bail was continued for both the man and the woman, who did not speak to media outside court.

Mr Lewis told the court that he would “make submissions” at the conclusion of the committal proceedings.

Outside court, he did not elaborate on whether this meant a no-case submission for his client, telling reporters they would need to wait and see.

The man is facing 12 charges, including seven counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, two counts of torture, two counts of common assault and one count of observations or recordings in breach of privacy.

The woman faces 46 charges – including nine counts of rape, 23 counts of common assault, eight counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm while armed, three counts of torture, two counts of sexual assault and a single count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Police allege in court documents the alleged offences span over several locations in Queensland dating back several years.

The woman was granted a non-publication order by magistrate Aaron Simpson after he found she was at risk of harming herself should further media coverage identify her.

Judge gavel and scale in court. Legal concept
The pair are due to face a committal hearing at Richlands Magistrates Court in September. Picture: Supplied

His ruling came after she attempted to self-harm last month, according to court documents.

Queensland legislation previously prevented media outlets from identifying people charged with a “prescribed sexual offence” – including rape, attempted rape, assault with intent to commit rape, and sexual assault.

Changes to the legislation in October last year softened restrictions on identifying people charged with the aforementioned offences.

Some of the more high-profile cases identified as a result included Bruce Lehrmann, previously referred to as a “high-profile man” and Ashley Paul Griffith, a childcare worker charged with a raft of abuse offences.

Both of these cases are still before the courts and no pleas have been entered.

Mr Simpson’s ruling on the woman’s identity was one of the first non-publication orders implemented after Queensland’s new sexual offence identification laws were introduced.