Brittany Higgins’ texts to friend after alleged assault by Bruce Lehrmann read in court as trial begins

Several text messages sent by Brittany Higgins to a friend in the days following her alleged sexual assault in parliament have been read out in court.

Bruce Lehrmann, 27, has pleaded not guilty to a single charge of sexual intercourse without consent.

Crown prosecutor Shane Drumgold told the court the alleged assault took place in the office of then-defence industry minister Linda Reynolds in the early hours of 23 March 2019.

news, courts & justice, act news, australia, crime, brittany higgins’ texts to friend  after alleged assault by bruce lehrmann read in court as trial begins

Bruce Lehrmann arrives at court. NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

In the days that followed, Ms Higgins told friend and former ministerial staffer Ben Dillaway she was “barely lucid” during the incident.

“I don’t feel like it was consensual. If he thought it was ok why would he leave me there like that,” she wrote.

The jury was told Ms Higgins could not recall if she was guided to the couch in the minister’s office, or went there willingly and lost consciousness.

Ms Higgins’ next memory, the prosecutor told the court, was being shocked out of unconsciousness when Lehrmann’s knee pressed into her thigh so hard it later caused a bruise.

“The pain in her leg shocked her awake,” the prosecutor said.

news, courts & justice, act news, australia, crime, brittany higgins’ texts to friend  after alleged assault by bruce lehrmann read in court as trial begins

Brittany Higgins arrived with her partner and her lawyers at court in Canberra. NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage. Credit: News Corp Australia

“She was wedged in the corner of the couch, he had his knee in her thigh, she was crying throughout.”

The jury heard Ms Higgins told Lehrmann “no” half a dozen times (before) he looked at her and left.

Ms Higgins, according to the prosecutor, said her dress was scrunched up around her waist and she was wearing no underwear. She couldn’t get off the couch and passed out until the next day.

The prosecution told the jury one security guard is expected to give evidence that Lehrmann quickly left Parliament House, throwing his visitor‘s pass on a table, and saying he wasn’t coming back.

Another security guard is expected to tell the court she was worried for Ms Higgins’ welfare and went to check the office – she saw the staffer naked, laying on the lounge, before she rolled over in the foetal position and went to sleep.

news, courts & justice, act news, australia, crime, brittany higgins’ texts to friend  after alleged assault by bruce lehrmann read in court as trial begins

Ms Higgins sent a text to a friend following the assault. NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

In his opening address, the crown prosecutor told the court that prior to the incident, Ms Higgins became heavily intoxicated during a night out with her then colleagues at the Dock Bar on the Kingston foreshore.

Later in the night, after some time at the 88mph nightclub in the Canberra centre, Ms Higgins fell and recalled “she knew she had to leave because she was as drunk as she’d ever been in her life”, the Crown told the court.

Earlier, the court was told Scott Morrison’s former chief of staff John Kunkle, Coalition senators Linda Reynolds and Michaelia Cash and journalists Samantha Maiden and Lisa Wilkinson could be called as witnesses in the trial.

news, courts & justice, act news, australia, crime, brittany higgins’ texts to friend  after alleged assault by bruce lehrmann read in court as trial begins

Lehrmann has pleaded not guilty. NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

Former minister Steven Ciobo was listed by the defence as another potential witness.

A panel of 16 jurors was chosen on Tuesday morning.

Chief Justice Lucy McCallum encouraged potential members of the jury panel to come forward if they did not believe they could take part.

She warned the trial had become a “cause célèbre” that had a “momentum of its own”.

The trial is expected to run for between four and six weeks.

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