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Who’s on team Brittany Higgins, and who’s defending Bruce Lehrmann, Canberra rape trial

Brittany Higgins and her accused rapist are flanked by supporters and high-powered legal teams to help them in the high-profile sexual assault case gripping the nation.

Ms Higgins, 27, has been testifying at the ACT Supreme Court in Canberra at the trial of former Liberal Party staffer Bruce Lehrmann – who denies raping her inside Parliament House in March 2019, after a drunken night out.

Her partner David Sharaz, the ACT Victims of Crime Commissioner Heidi Yates, lawyer Leon Zweir and friend Emma Webster have stood by her on her way to court on the first days of the trial so far.

Mr Zweir has been described as the ‘Mr fix it’ of some of the biggest legal battles in Australia.

ACT’s Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold SC and experienced prosecutor, Skye Jerome, are representing the Crown.

Brittany Higgins’ team: 1. ACT Victims of Crime Commissioner Heidi Yates; 2. Brittany Higgins; 3. Her friend, Emma Webster; 4. Her boyfriend, David Sharaz; 5. Lawyer Leon Zweir

Crown prosecutors: 1. ACT's Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold SC; 2.  Prosecutor, Skye Jerome

Crown prosecutors: 1. ACT’s Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold SC; 2.  Prosecutor, Skye Jerome

Mr Drumgold, who has run many of Canberra’s most high profile cases in his 20 years at the ACT DPP, has held the top prosecuting job since 2019.

He is assisted by Ms Jerome, an experienced prosecutor in both the ACT and Queensland.  

Meanwhile, Mr Lerhmann’s defender is barrister Steven Whybrow, a former prosecutor in the ACT courts who, as a RAAF Legal Officer, is also regularly involved in cases in the military courts.

His junior counsel Katrina Musgrove, who went to the bar in 2016, has also worked as a prosecutor in sexual assault trials.

The case is presided by Justice Lucy McCallum, who was sworn in as the Chief Justice of the ACT in March after 14 years as a judge on the NSW Supreme Court.

Ms Higgins and Mr Lehrmann sat just metres from each other during Wednesday’s trial, barely making eye contact in a public gallery brimming with journalists and legal personnel.

They will appear in court again on Thursday, as the trial continues.

On Wednesday, Ms Higgins took the stand and watched CCTV footage from The Dock venue in Kingston on the night she was allegedly raped.

Pictured outside court: 1. Katrina Musgrove, junior defence counsel for the trial; 2. Bruce Lehrmann

Pictured outside court: 1. Katrina Musgrove, junior defence counsel for the trial; 2. Bruce Lehrmann

Chief defence lawyer is Steven Whybrown (pictured behind Mr Lehrmann outside court)

Chief defence lawyer is Steven Whybrown (pictured behind Mr Lehrmann outside court)

Brittany Higgins leaves ACT Supreme Court in Canberra after taking to the witness stand in the trial of her alleged rapist

Brittany Higgins leaves ACT Supreme Court in Canberra after taking to the witness stand in the trial of her alleged rapist

Two police interviews with the alleged victim in early 2021 were played for the court, and showed Ms Higgins repeatedly stating she drank a lot that night and her memory was ‘patchy’.

The 27-year-old originally said she had about four drinks at The Dock, but security footage showed she had up to 11 within a four-hour period – between 7.24pm and 11.51pm.

Earlier in the evening, Ms Higgins was at a table with about six colleagues, but could be seen using her phone at the table intermittently.

The court was told she had organised a Bumble date for the evening.

She moved away from the main table at 8.20pm to meet her date outside the bar before bringing him inside to introduce him to everyone at the table.

He sat with the group of mainly parliamentary staff, but seemed to disappear before 8.52pm, when Ms Higgins joined another table with Mr Lehrmann and two others.

She skolled her final drink at 11.51pm before she left the pub with the group.

Ms Higgins was visibly shaken after the CCTV was played to the court on Wednesday. 

Justice Lucy McCallum was sworn in as the Chief Justice of the ACT in March after 14 years as a judge on the NSW Supreme Court

Justice Lucy McCallum was sworn in as the Chief Justice of the ACT in March after 14 years as a judge on the NSW Supreme Court

Brittany Higgins sent her ex a series of texts in 2019 to say her Friday night had not gone as expected after she was allegedly raped in a Parliament House office. CoS stands for chief of staff, a key position in a parliamentary office

Brittany Higgins sent her ex a series of texts in 2019 to say her Friday night had not gone as expected after she was allegedly raped in a Parliament House office. CoS stands for chief of staff, a key position in a parliamentary office

The court was also shown video of her being questioned by police over a series of texts she sent to former lover Ben Dillaway in the aftermath of the alleged attack. 

According to messages, shown to the jury, Ms Higgins’s old flame Mr Dillaway asked her: ‘Was it just you and Bruce who went back there or a group of people? 

‘Did you hook up in there or did someone take advantage of you?’

She replied: ‘Yes, it was just Bruce and I from what I recall. I was barely lucid. 

‘I really don’t feel like it was consensual at all. If he thought it was OK why would he just leave me there like that?’

Ms Higgins told police in the interview she had already had to fend off Lehrmann when he made an attempt to kiss her in her first week in the job at a team dinner.

Former Liberal Party staffer Bruce Lehrmann leaves the ACT Supreme Court on Wednesday after his former colleague and alleged rape victim Brittany Higgins gave evidence

Former Liberal Party staffer Bruce Lehrmann leaves the ACT Supreme Court on Wednesday after his former colleague and alleged rape victim Brittany Higgins gave evidence

‘Bruce made a pass at me and tried to kiss me,’ she said. ‘I didn’t think about it all that much because I rebuffed it. 

‘I didn’t think it would be a bit deal at the time. It was fine – he took it and left.’

She added: ‘I had just broken up with Ben … We never talked about it again.’

‘It was just the two of us. He leaned forward to my face, but at the same time I’d had other people in politics make passes at me before. 

‘I didn’t want to embarrass him. Mixed signal type thing.’

Just a few weeks later, Ms Higgins alleges Lehrmann raped her after the boozy night out.

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