Sexual Consent Laws In NSW Under Review

The review will determine if the state's laws are 'clear enough, certain enough, fair enough.'

What you need to know
  • NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman announced a review of the state's sexual consent laws.
  • The move comes after woman at the centre of a controversial rape case spoke publicly about her ordeal for the first time
  • "Maybe someone else won't have to spend five years fighting to get nowhere," she said

Sexual consent laws in NSW will be reviewed after a woman who accused a man of raping her in a Kings Cross lane way spoke publicly about her ordeal for the first time.

The woman at the centre of the controversial rape case spoke out about her ordeal for the first time on Monday, revealing her torment over the acquittal of Sydney man Luke Lazarus. The case has sparked a national debate on sexual consent laws.

The state's attorney general, Mark Speakman, on Tuesday said he would refer the state's consent laws to the Law Reform Commission.

He said the laws need clarity.

"What this shows is that there's a real question about whether our law in New South Wales is clear enough, is certain enough, is fair enough," he told reporters.

"That's why I've asked the Law Reform Commission to look at the whole question of consent in sexual assault trials."

Saxon Mullins, 23, accused Lazarus of raping her in May 2013. She waived her legal right to anonymity in the hope it will provoke a discussion about NSW sexual consent laws.

She spoke publicly for the first time about the incident in an interview with ABC’s Four Corners, on Monday night.

'No one wants that'

According to Mullins, Lazarus took her outside to a dark alleyway behind his father’s Soho nightclub in Kings Cross in the early hours of the morning.

He told her to get on her hands and knees and had anal sex with her.

Over a five-year period, Mullins endured two trials and two appeals with Lazarus eventually walking free.

He was found not guilty of sexual assault, despite a jury and two judges finding Mullins had not given her consent to having sex with him.

"No-one dreams of their first time being in an alleyway with someone whose name they can't even remember. No-one wants that," Mullins said.

During his first trial, Lazarus testified he honestly believed that Mullins had given her consent to having sex.

He received a sentence of five years in prison, but a judge overturned the decision on the first appeal.

The judge in the second trial, Judge Robyn Tupman found that Lazarus had no reasonable basis for believing Mullins had not consented.

In November 2017, the Court of Criminal Appeal found that while the judge in the second trial erred, Lazarus would not be retried as it would be unfair to put him through a third trial.

Mullins said the Attorney-General's decision to refer the relevant consent laws to the Law Reform Commission made her feel like "it wasn't all for nothing."

"Maybe someone else won't have to spend five years fighting to get nowhere," she said.