• Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

More explosive allegations about Bruce Lehrmann’s prosecutor, Shane Drumgold

Bynewsmagzines

Feb 19, 2023
Shane Drumgold (pictured) lead the case against Bruce Lehrmann in the ACT Supreme Court in October

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As the explosive Bruce Lehrmann trial reached its final stages, top prosecutor Shane Drumgold fired off an angry 4.30am text to his builder: ‘I know you have other jobs but this delay is seriously f***ing me up.’

It was one of many fiery messages between the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions and builder Matthew Thompson, who was contracted last February to renovate two of Mr Drumgold’s investment properties on the NSW south coast.

And most of it unfolded during what was arguably the biggest trial of the year, where Mr Drumgold was in charge of the case against Mr Lehrmann who was accused of raping Brittany Higgins in Parliament House in 2019.

Mr Lehrman had pleaded not guilty and was subject to a month-long trial by jury in the ACT Supreme Court, which began in October.

The construction included major kitchen and bathroom renovations, along with new carpets, paint, concrete path and retaining wall totalling about $137,000.

But all did not go to plan – for either party.

By November, Mr Drumgold was refusing to pay the remaining $33,912 balance because he claimed there were ‘defects’ in the build – which Mr Thompson denies.

Shane Drumgold (pictured) lead the case against Bruce Lehrmann in the ACT Supreme Court in October

Shane Drumgold (pictured) lead the case against Bruce Lehrmann in the ACT Supreme Court in October

Shane Drumgold (pictured) lead the case against Bruce Lehrmann in the ACT Supreme Court in October

Matthew Thompson (pictured) was hired to do a series of renovations on Shane Drumgold's investment properties

Matthew Thompson (pictured) was hired to do a series of renovations on Shane Drumgold's investment properties

Matthew Thompson (pictured) was hired to do a series of renovations on Shane Drumgold’s investment properties

The pair are now embroiled in an ugly legal battle detailed in a series of emails and letters between Mr Thompson’s lawyer Ben Aulich and Mr Drumgold.

There are also a series of text messages between the builder and the public prosecutor, some of which were allegedly sent from Mr Drumgold’s phone while court was in session – when Ms Higgins and Mr Lehrmann’s police interviews were played for the jury.

Mr Drumgold denies sending the texts during court proceedings, claiming instead that his wife Natasha sent them from another Apple device that was connected to his phone.

Daily Mail Australia can reveal the builder is claiming to have met with Mr Drumgold six times during business hours in his DPP office in Canberra to discuss the investment property renovations.

Furthermore, Mr Thompson alleges in the legal letters that the public prosecutor used his government email address to discuss the private renovations.

For his part, Mr Drumgold has accused Mr Aulich of spreading misinformation and prosecuting the case through the media instead of the relevant channels.

The building dispute comes as Mr Drumgold’s conduct in the Lehrmann case is examined as part of wider independent review into how the Higgins’ rape allegations were handled.

Meetings ‘inside the DPP office’

In the legal letters, Mr Thompson says he met with Mr Drumgold six times during business hours in his DPP office in Canberra to discuss the investment property renovations.

Mr Thompson alleges those meetings took place in the lead-up to Mr Lehrmann’s trial, and in the midst of multiple pre-trial hearings in the Supreme Court – specifically, on February 25, April 1, April 4, May 10, August 2, and August 31.

There were pre-trail hearings for Mr Lehrmann’s case in March, April, and June.

The letters also acknowledge that Mr Drumgold denies the meetings took place inside his DPP office. The public prosecutor did not respond to that particular allegation when contacted by Daily Mail Australia.

Angry texts

Texts between the pair were also allegedly sent from Mr Drumgold’s phone while court was in session in – when Ms Higgins and Mr Lehrmann’s police interviews were played for the jury.

During the trial on October 10, texts appeared to be sent from Mr Drumgold’s phone to Mr Thompson asking for ‘updates’ on the Bateman’s Bay and Surf Beach properties.

The builder explained the delays were due to bad weather, illness, and global material shortages – to which Mr Drumgold said ‘I just need the job finished’.

Two days later, on October 12 – the day the court was due to hear evidence from multiple key witnesses, the prosecutor sent a message to Mr Thompson at 4.28am.

On October 10, Mr Thompson messaged Mr Drumgold to say his stone mason was sick with covid

On October 10, Mr Thompson messaged Mr Drumgold to say his stone mason was sick with covid

On October 10, Mr Thompson messaged Mr Drumgold to say his stone mason was sick with covid

Two days later, on October 12, Mr Drumgold messaged the builder to say he was juggling property management and a rape trial

Two days later, on October 12, Mr Drumgold messaged the builder to say he was juggling property management and a rape trial

Two days later, on October 12, Mr Drumgold messaged the builder to say he was juggling property management and a rape trial

Mr Drumgold then acknowledged the builder had other jobs, but said the delays were 'f***ing me up'

Mr Drumgold then acknowledged the builder had other jobs, but said the delays were 'f***ing me up'

Mr Drumgold then acknowledged the builder had other jobs, but said the delays were ‘f***ing me up’

‘I am trying to balance the property management, amongst very long hours working the trial. It matters a great deal to me that you tell me a completion date that I work to with tenants and valuations,’ he said.

‘I know you have other jobs but this delay is seriously f***ing me up – I have now had to push back tenants and valuation twice.’

The following day, Mr Thompson said in a text: ‘I can understand your frustration – I am very frustrated as well – but sometimes these circumstances are unavoidable.’

‘From the day I agreed to do your works I also said that I don’t give completion dates with the environment we are currently living in and working in – i.e., covid, global material shortages and trade shortages.’

‘Your job continues to be a priority for me.’

Mr Drumgold denies sending texts to Mr Thompson while court was in session, and says they were actually sent by his wife Natasha.

The builder and his lawyer Mr Aulich dispute this – partly because he never had any dealings with Mrs Drumgold, and the texts were addressed to ‘Shane’ and the recipient did suggest they should be addressed to anyone else.

Pictured: Mr Drumgold's $400,000 investment property in Surf Beach, on the NSW South Coast

Pictured: Mr Drumgold's $400,000 investment property in Surf Beach, on the NSW South Coast

Pictured: Mr Drumgold’s $400,000 investment property in Surf Beach, on the NSW South Coast

Pictured: Mr Drumgold's $400,000 investment property in Bateman's Bay, on the NSW South Coast

Pictured: Mr Drumgold's $400,000 investment property in Bateman's Bay, on the NSW South Coast

Pictured: Mr Drumgold’s $400,000 investment property in Bateman’s Bay, on the NSW South Coast

Matthew Thompson heavily renovated the kitchen at the Bateman's Bay property (pictured)

Matthew Thompson heavily renovated the kitchen at the Bateman's Bay property (pictured)

Matthew Thompson heavily renovated the kitchen at the Bateman’s Bay property (pictured)

Won’t pay invoice 

On November 20, weeks after the trial was aborted due to misconduct by a member of the jury, Mr Thompson sent Mr Drumgold a final invoice for $33,912 – asking for the amount to be finalised because he was a sole trader and the amount was significant.

On December 3 – the day after Mr Drumgold announced he would drop the case against Mr Lehrmann due to concerns over Ms Higgins’ mental health – the prosecutor allegedly sent a text to the builder stating that he ‘refused’ to pay the invoice.

‘I will not be paying a cent until I am satisfied both jobs have been completed in accordance with your undertakings,’ the message read.

In January this year, Mr Drumgold outlined a list of ‘defects’ in the renovations – including cracks in the concrete, and the absence of insurance for the works at the Surf Beach residence.

He also claimed there was a leak in the kitchen at the Bateman’s Bay property, along with no plumbing to support the washing machine, and a leak in the base of the shower.

Mr Thompson denies the claims, and will allege in court that there are no defects in the renovations.

Property was ‘uninhabitable’ 

The emails also revealed that Mr Thompson had to travel about 130km to the NSW south coast to do the renovations.

He had organised to stay in one of Mr Drumgold’s investment properties, however, the builder claimed the property ‘was in such poor condition it was effectively uninhabitable’.

‘Problems with the property included mold in wet areas, dirty walls and carpets, and filth and dirt throughout the property,’ an email to Mr Drumgold, from Mr Thompson’s lawyer, said.

Mr Thompson paid for his own accommodation while he did the renovations, but did not bill Mr Drumgold for that expense.

Furthermore, Mr Thompson claimed he had to borrow money from someone else in the DPP office to get him through the Christmas period, and buy his 13-year-old daughter with special needs and a 10-year-old son gifts.

Ms Higgins (pictured) wrote a series of tweets about how her diary extracts should not have been made public

Ms Higgins (pictured) wrote a series of tweets about how her diary extracts should not have been made public

Ms Higgins (pictured) was at the centre of the rape trial that captivated the nation

Drumgold hits back 

In a statement to Daily Mail Australia, Mr Drumgold labelled Mr Aulich’s legal position ‘untenable’.

‘Which is why they have attempted spread misinformation to leverage of my current profile, to prosecute their case through the media rather than the appropriate legal channels,’ he said.

‘Both the false allegations of misconduct and the unlawful works will likely be subject to legal proceedings in the future.’

Mr Drumgold paid about $400,000 for each property in 2017. The Bateman’s Bay home was rented in November for $550/week.

While Mr Thompson had never worked with Mr Drumgold prior to the February contract, there is friction between his lawyer Mr Aulich and the public prosecutor. 

In December last year, Mr Aulich’s law partner Peter Woodhouse published a blog post on the firm’s website, demanding Mr Drumgold resign over the decision to prosecute Mr Lehrmann for the alleged rape of Ms Higgins.

Mr Woodhouse also pointed to further allegations that there was was insufficient evidence to prosecute Mr Lehrmann, but went ahead with it anyway.

Furthermore, Mr Aulich has been charged with conspiracy to launder. He has pleaded not guilty. His defence team claim police used illegal actions and entrapment in the operation that led to the charges.

That matter is before the courts.

TIMELINE: DRUMGOLD VERSUS THOMPSON 

February 2022: Shane Drumgold hired Matthew Thompson to renovate two investment properties – one in Batemans Bay and one in Surf Beach, on the NSW south coast.

February 25: Mr Thompson alleges he went to the first of six meetings in Mr Drumgold’s DPP office.

April 1: Bruce Lehrmann’s lawyers call for a permanent stay on the case, which means Mr Lehrmann would not be prosecuted. Mr Drumgold appeared in the ACT Supreme Court.

Mr Thompson alleges he had a second meeting with Mr Drumgold in his DPP office in Canberra.

March 16: There is another pre-trial hearing in ACT Supreme Court.

April 4: Mr Thompson alleges he had a third meeting with Mr Drumgold in his DPP office in Canberra.

April 29: Chief Justice Lucy McCallum rejects the request for a permanent stay.

May 10: Mr Thompson alleges he had a fourth meeting with Mr Drumgold in his DPP office in Canberra.

June 20: There is another pre-trial hearing in ACT Supreme Court, regarding Lisa Wilkinson’s Logies speech.

June 21: Chief Justice McCallum abandons the original trial date of June 27. 

August 2: Mr Thompson alleges he had a fifth meeting with Mr Drumgold in his DPP office in Canberra.

August 31: Mr Thompson alleges he had a sixth meeting with Mr Drumgold in his DPP office in Canberra.

October 4: The trial against Mr Lehrmann begins.

October 5, 10.42am: Mr Thompson received a text message from Mr Drumgold’s phone requesting an update his Batemans Bay property: ‘Thanks mate – can you update me on the South St progress.’

At that same moment, according to trial transcripts, the court was watching the police record of ­interview with Ms Higgins.

October 10, 12.52pm: Mr Thompson received a text from Mr Drumgold’s phone asking for a completion date because a tenant was supposed to be moving in: ‘Hey Matt – sorry the Real ­Estate are wanting a date for the new lease – can you confirm 18 October?’

Mr Thompson replied: ‘Hey Shane just waiting for the stone guy to get back to me he said he’d let me know by the end of the day.’

At 7pm that evening, Mr Thompson texted Mr Drumgold to say his ‘stone guy’ was sick with Covid. 

At that moment, according to the trial transcript, Mr Lehrmann’s police record of interview was being played to the court.

October 12, 4.28am: Mr Drumgold sent a message to Mr Thompson: ‘I am trying to balance the property management, amongst very long hours working the trial. It matters a great deal to me that you tell me a completion date that I work to with tenants and valuations.’

‘I know you have other jobs but this delay is seriously f***ing me up – I have now had to push back tenants and valuation twice.’

Later that day, the court heard key evidence from multiple witnesses in the trial.

October 27: The trial against Bruce Lehrmann is aborted due to misconduct by a member of the jury. 

November 20: Weeks after the trial was aborted due to misconduct by a member of the jury, Mr Thompson sent Mr Drumgold a final invoice for $33,912.

December 2: Mr Drumgold announced he would drop the case against Mr Lehrmann due to concerns for Ms Higgins’ mental health. 

December 3: Mr Drumgold sent a text to the builder stating that he ‘refused’ to pay the invoice.

‘I will not be paying a cent until I am satisfied both jobs have been completed in accordance with your undertakings,’ the message read.

January 20: Mr Drumgold outlined a list of ‘defects’ in the renovations.

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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