Australia

Bruce Lehrmann brought ‘drunk and vulnerable’ Brittany Higgins to parliament to get her alone, prosecutor says

The ACT Director of Public Prosecutions has spoken directly to the jury as he summed up his case, as he seeks to prove that at Parliament House in 2019.
Prosecutor Shane Drumgold told the jury, he will seek to prove Bruce Lehrmann brought Brittany Higgins to Parliament House in the early hours of March 23, 2019, as she “was very drunk, she was very vulnerable, and he took her there in the hope she wouldn’t resist, or she wouldn’t remember.”
The former Liberal staffer denied the allegation and has pleaded not guilty to sexual intercourse without consent.
Prosecutor Shane Drumgold urged the jury not to be distracted by “red herrings” and that this case is “not about the treatment of other women at Parliament House or the ‘Me Too’ movement”.

His argument was split into five categories, he first sought to prove Bruce Lehrmann was attracted to Brittany Higgins, pointing to witness evidence from colleague Nicole Haymer, who previously told the court, Mr Lehrmann commented Ms Higgins was attractive, after a meeting her weeks before the alleged rape.

Former Liberal Party staffer Brittany Higgins’ (pictured) former boss Fiona Brown was among those who has given evidence. Source: AAP / Mick Tsikas

The prosecutor then focused on the different reasons Bruce Lehrmann gave for entering Parliament in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Mr Drumgold highlighted a voice recording of Bruce Lehrmann on the Parliament House security intercom, where Mr Lehrmann can be heard telling security “we’ve been requested to pick up some documents.”
The prosecutor seeking to contrast this with an email sent by Mr Lehrmann, during the termination of his employment, where the accused wrote he “refute[s] the claim that I informed security it was for official purposes.”
“Well members of the jury he certainly made that inference, he expressed it clearly,” Mr Drumgold continued.

Mr Drumgold submitted another two reasons Mr Lehrmann gave for entering Parliament. The evidence of his boss Fiona Brown, who previously told the court, Mr Lehrmann told her he came back to drink whiskey and Mr Lehrmann’s police interview, where he said he came back to Parliament to pick up his apartment keys and attend to Question Time folders.

Mr Drumgold suggests drinking whiskey is the only reason that could be believed. He told the court parliament was not sitting in the week after the alleged assault, and there was not an upcoming Question Time.
“Standing back from this, at 1.40am in the morning, he is in his last days of a job, and it’s agreed that parliament was not sitting in the entire week that followed, why not make a note [of the work] and come in and do it on Monday?” the Prosecutor questioned.
“This was clearly not true.”
“The accused took the complainant [Ms Higgins] to Parliament House because it was the most convenient place to get the drunk and vulnerable complainant alone.”

Third, and what Mr Drumgold proposed would be a “central question to answer in the jury room” is if sex occurred.

He spoke to Ms Higgins’ credibility and her “vivid compelling” account of what happened to her and her, as well as the seven people, who have given evidence in this trial, who said Brittany Higgins told them about the alleged rape, in the two weeks after it is suggested to have occurred.
These allegedly contemporaneous reports include conversations with Senator Linda Reynolds, Chief of Staff Fiona Brown, two police officers, and her ex-boyfriend Ben Dillaway.
The final two categories, Shane Drumgold put are if Ms Higgins consented to sex or if Mr Lehrmann was reckless with obtaining consent.
To this he argued Brittany Higgins was too intoxicated to have consented to sex, pointing to security camera footage, in which he suggests shows Ms Higgins drank 11 drinks in four and a half hours and in later footage at Parliament House, she “could not sufficiently balance to get one of her shoes on let alone two of them.”
The prosecutor suggested the “essence” of the case is whether Brittany Higgins made up the allegations to save her job, after being found by security naked and asleep in a ministerial office.
Mr Drumgold argued there was “not even one single piece of evidence to suggest her job was at risk” or that there be a reason for Ms Higgins to “follow it through for three and a half years and be cross-examined in front of you.”
“If she did it was elaborate,” Mr Drumgold said.
“If this is a fabrication, she is quite the actor, ranging from being upset, being extremely upset and being broken … This includes being unrecognisable to her own mother.”

The trial is continuing, and the Defence will sum up its case shortly.

File source

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