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Brittany Higgins claims Bruce Lehrmann ‘bought her a coffee’ after alleged rape

A jury has heard a police interview where Brittany Higgins tells detectives her version of events after she was allegedly raped in a parliamentary office by fellow staffer Bruce Lehrmann. 

In an excerpt of the interview, aired in the ACT Supreme Court on Wednesday, Ms Higgins claimed she had a ‘strange moment of eye contact’ with Lehrmann after he allegedly raped her one Friday evening in March 2019.

‘At that point, I didn’t say anything to him anymore,’ Ms Higgins said in the police interview. 

Lehrmann has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual intercourse without consent – with Ms Higgins, 26, the first witness to give evidence on Wednesday, watching on as the clip was aired. 

In the interview, Ms Higgins claimed she was woken the next morning by a female security guard, who asked if everything was OK. 

The young woman said she was ‘fine’, despite her dress being bunched around her waist, the court heard.

The court heard Ms Higgins then threw up in the former minister’s bathroom, before she made her way into a small room near Ms Reynolds’ former office, which had no windows, found a box of Roses chocolates and ate it while crying.

‘I pulled myself together – I was quite dishevelled. I borrowed one of the minister’s jackets to cover my cocktail dress,’ she said in the police interview.

Brittany Higgins arrives at court for the second day of Bruce Lehrmann’s trial on Wednesday – with the former staffer expected to give evidence

Higgins arrives at court on Wednesday in a crepe lace midi dress. She is accompanied by friend Emma Webster

Higgins arrives at court on Wednesday in a crepe lace midi dress. She is accompanied by friend Emma Webster

The following Monday, Ms Higgins told officers that she went to work and saw Mr Lehrmann.

But she said they did not talk about the night of the alleged incident – instead, he bought her coffee, the court heard. 

‘I was trying to overcompensate to make it feel normal. We didn’t discuss it. We didn’t talk about it. He didn’t seem ashamed or upset.

‘It didn’t feel like something he wanted to address.’

‘Patchy’ recollection of that night 

An earlier section of the police interview was played in court where the jury was told her recollection of the night was ‘really patchy’.

In the interview, recorded in February 2021, Ms Higgins said she remembered dancing alone in the crowd at the Canberra night spot 88mph on that Friday evening in March 2019.

She told police she took shots after already drinking for some time. ‘I was really intoxicated and it was really weird,’ she said. 

‘I drink socially but I don’t usually get obliterated, but I was at 100. I hit 100. 

‘As drunk as I’ve ever been in my life.’

Higgins watched the police interview via video link from another room in the court, after arriving at court flanked by friend Emma Webster and wearing a crepe-lace designer midi dress.

Her accused attacker, Bruce Lehrmann, was in the courtroom, having pleaded not guilty to a charge of sexual intercourse without consent. 

While Ms Higgins’ interview was replayed for the jury, Lehrmann did not look at the screen.

On Tuesday, Brittany Higgins was flanked by her legal team and supporters as she arrived at court for the first day in the trial of her accused rapist

On Tuesday, Brittany Higgins was flanked by her legal team and supporters as she arrived at court for the first day in the trial of her accused rapist

Higgins then went into detail about the moment she was allegedly raped in a parliamentary office of then defence minister Linda Reynolds, following a night out with their colleagues.

She claimed Lehrmann ‘seemed sweaty’, was ‘grunting’ and she was ‘jammed in the corner’ of the couch.

‘I told him no, I told him to stop,’ she told police in the interview, the court heard. ‘It felt like it had been going on for awhile …. I was an afterthought.’

‘It felt quite rough… It was quite forceful. Everything about it was forceful. [I felt] trapped, not human. It didn’t feel like it was about me at all.’ 

The court heard Higgins wasn’t screaming, but she did start crying and saying ‘no’ from the moment she woke up. 

After the alleged attack concluded, Higgins said: ‘I remember he got up and looked at me and it was a strange moment of eye contact. 

‘At that point, I didn’t say anything to him anymore’.

Higgins said she was woken the following morning by a female security guard who asked if everything was OK – to which the young woman said she was ‘fine’, despite her dress being bunched around her waist.

The court heard she threw up in the former minister’s bathroom, before she made her way into a small room near Ms Reynolds’ former office, which had no windows, found a box of Roses chocolates and ate it while crying.

‘I pulled myself together – I was quite dishevelled. I borrowed one of the minister’s jackets to cover my cocktail dress,’ she said in the police interview.

Former Liberal Party staffer Bruce Lehrmann (right, outside court on Tuesday) showed little emotion as he left the ACT Supreme Court after the first day of his trial

Former Liberal Party staffer Bruce Lehrmann (right, outside court on Tuesday) showed little emotion as he left the ACT Supreme Court after the first day of his trial

The following Monday, Ms Higgins told officers that she went to work and saw Mr Lehrmann but they did not talk about the night of the alleged incident – instead, he bought her coffee.

‘I was trying to overcompensate to make it feel normal – we didn’t discuss it,’ she said.

Ms Higgins said the first time she opened up about the alleged incident was during a meeting with then-chief-of-staff, Fiona Brown, on the following Tuesday.

She assumed the meeting was called to address the situation that unfolded on March 19 – where she and Mr Lehrmann allegedly made their way into Parliament House late at night while intoxicated.

‘I felt stressed that I was going to be fired,’ she said. 

She was asked to resign the code of conduct, but wound up telling Ms Brown her version of events. 

‘I was full and frank, the same way I’m discussing now. That was the first time I’d vocalise it,’ she told police.

‘At the end of that, as soon as I identified it as a rape and I didn’t consent, I started to cry and that’s when the gears shifted and it became less about me and more political.’

‘I knew what happened to me was wrong, I knew I hadn’t consented, but I still had this self-blame – guilt, like I’d doe something wrong.’

The case continues. 

Former Liberal Party staffer Bruce Lehrmann arrives at the ACT Supreme Court in Canberra on Wednesday

Former Liberal Party staffer Bruce Lehrmann arrives at the ACT Supreme Court in Canberra on Wednesday

The first half of the police interview 

Higgins earlier told police in the interview that she did not immediately report the alleged rape because of a culture of silence among political staffers, a court has heard.  

During part of the police interview played earlier in the week, Ms Higgins said she did not immediately report the alleged rape because of the culture of silence among political staffers. 

Ms Higgins said she felt stressed, scared and embarrassed.

‘I was shell shocked by what had happened,’ she told police.

‘I didn’t know who to tell, how to action it or what to do.’

Ms Higgins described herself as being ‘really drunk’ the night of the alleged incident.

She told police the pair had been at a bar and then nightclub with colleagues before she and Lehrmann got into a taxi.

While she initially thought she was on her way home, Lehrmann told her he needed to collect some work from Parliament House.

‘It felt like it was safe space for me and I didn’t say no to going to parliament,’ she told police.

The trial is expected to last up to six weeks with dozens of witnesses being called to give evidence (pictured Ms Higgins leaves court on Tuesday with friend Emma Webster and boyfriend David Sharaz)

The trial is expected to last up to six weeks with dozens of witnesses being called to give evidence (pictured Ms Higgins leaves court on Tuesday with friend Emma Webster and boyfriend David Sharaz) 

‘I didnt have all my devices about me … but at the time it didn’t seem unsafe … it didnt feel dangerous.’

Ms Higgins alleges after the two of them entered Senator Reynolds’ office she fell asleep on a couch and woke up to Lehrmann having sex with her.

She will be questioned by prosecutor Shane Drumgold SC and Lehrmann’s defence lawyer Steven Whybrow on Wednesday.

Mr Drumgold flagged more than 50 witnesses could be called to give evidence during the trial, which is expected to last between four and six weeks.

Among the witnesses are Liberal senators Linda Reynolds and Michaelia Cash, former Liberal MP Steven Ciobo as well as other political and parliamentary staff.

Mr Whybrow told the jury Ms Higgins’ allegations had not been tested or proven and Lehrmann denied having sex with her.

‘This is going to be a long case. Ms Higgins has said a lot of things about a lot of people,’ Mr Whybrow said on Tuesday.

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