Today, the Court dismissed the jury in the Dianne Brimble trial in Australia after it deadlocked on one of two remaining charges against P & O passenger Mark Wilhelm.
The prosecution originally brought three charges against defendant Wilhelm for his involvement in the drugging death of Ms. Brimble on the P & O cruise ship Pacific Sky: (1) supplying a prohibited drug (GHB); (2) manslaughter, if the GHB significantly contributed to Ms Brimble’s death; and (3) manslaughter by criminal negligence, for failing to aid Ms. Brimble as she lay dying on the floor of the cabin. The last charge was withdrawn by the prosecution shortly before the case was submitted to the jury for deliberation because the Crown admitted that it could not prove exactly when Ms Brimble died.
It appears that the jury agreed that Wilhelm gave Ms. Brimble the date rape drug, but could not agree that the drug was a substantial factor in her death.
ABC News in Australia reports that before deadlocking, the jury asked the Court: "If the accused supplied Ms Brimble with GHB and this drug substantially contributed to her death, can the fact Ms. Brimble being an adult person who voluntarily took the drug be a reason for the accused to be found not guilty of manslaughter?" The Court answered the jury’s question "No." Whether Ms. Brimble took the drug voluntarily, as opposed to Wilhelm giving her the drug surreptitiously, not was not a defense.
The jury had to ignore much of the evidence introduced over the course of the last month after the prosecution withdrew manslaughter-by-criminal-negligence allegations. The Court instructed the jurors that the trial was no longer about whether Mark Wilhelm should have helped Ms Brimble, and to ignore photographs of her dying on the cabin floor.
The newspaper reports that the Court informed the jury that "it may have been morally reprehensible the way Ms Brimble was treated but there was a difference between morality and legal duties."
Ms Brimble’s former husband Mark Brimble and David Mitchell, her partner of many years, appeared before the media after the Court discharged the jury. Mr. Brimble stated that their three children, two sons and a daughter, were not doing well with the jury’s failure to return a verdict. News.au.com reports that Mr. Mitchell stated: "We will continue, of course, to fight for Dianne in our pursuit for the truth, with Dianne being the mother of our children."
The newspaper also quotes Mr. Brimble stating:
"We’re frustrated but we’re not beaten. We’re tired, but we’re not finished. We’re still here, supporting our children through this and Dianne’s extended family and we’ll continue to do so."
Mr. Brimble’s and Mr. Mitchell’s comments to the media are recorded in this video from ABC News Australia:
Is it possible that the case can be re-tried? The Court has scheduled a conference on November 6, 2009 where this and other issues will be addressed.
Photo of Mark Wilhelm AAP: Dean Lewins
Photo of Dianne Brimble AAP: Jeremy Piper
Video of Mark Brimble and David Mitchell ABC News Australia