In a stunning and unexpected end to the trial involving the death of P and O Cruises passenger Dianne Brimble, the prosecution dropped a manslaughter charge against fellow cruise passenger Mark Wilhelm.
Australia’s Herald Sun reports that Wilhelm pled guilty to supplying the date rape drug GHB to Ms. Brimble in exchange for being released from the manslaughter charge.
Last year, a jury reached a split decision. The jury found that Wilhelm gave Ms. Brimble the drugs which led to her death, but it could not reach a decision on the manslaughter charges. This led to a hung jury and a decision to re-try the case.
After the plea agreement was announced, the Brimble family had to endure a lecture by the presiding trial judge. Justice Roderick Howe stated that although defendant Wilhelm may have been "technically and morally responsible" for Dianne Brimble’s cruise ship death, and his behavior may have been "bad, loutish or even insensitive,” he was not legally responsible for manslaughter.
The judge then made a number of rather gratuitous comments, criticizing what he characterized as the "prejudice" and "hysteria” surrounding the death and ensuing events – adding that Wilhelm had been subjected to "rumors, misinformation, supposition and conjecture."
We have written many articles about Ms. Brimble and the outlandish conduct of Mr. Wilhelm and the seven men who cruised with him. The judge’s comments are off the mark as well as being insensitive and disrespectful to the Brimble family.
Ms. Brimble’s family expressed their frustration with the the decision to drop the manslaughter charge. The Brisbane Times reports that Ms. Brimble’s family will seek to reopen the investigation into her death.
According to the newspapers, Ms. Brimble’s former husband, Mark Brimble, said "We’re disappointed that it ends this way . . . we are frustrated with the system.” "I want the coroner to enter into findings . . . we need to know what has to happen to stop this ever happening to any other individual or Australian traveling on a cruise ship or on a holiday," he said.
"Dianne went on a holiday and didn’t come back . . . that should not happen to a person again."
Wilhelm will be sentenced for supplying the drugs on April 29th.