According to Bruce Lehrmann’s attorney, Brittany Higgins cannot remember what exactly occurred on the night she alleges he sexually assaulted her.
The high-profile rape trial of Lehrmann concluded Thursday afternoon, and defense attorney Steven Whybrow said that the burden of evidence rested with the prosecution.
After a night out in Canberra on March 22, 2019, Ms. Higgins claims that her then-colleague Lehrmann sexually assaulted her in the parliamentary office of former defense minister Linda Reynolds.
To the charge of engaging in sexual activity without consent, Lehrmann entered a not guilty plea.
The prosecution could not demonstrate any rape happened, Mr. Whybrow said the jurors.
In conclusion, we may state she doesn’t know while still being polite to Ms. Higgins and avoiding any accusations of dishonesty, deception, or ulterior benefit. She is unaware of what transpired, he claimed.
We are unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she was aware of what took place.
According to him, informing Lehrmann’s former supervisor Fiona Brown that he came to work to drink whiskey would have been “about the worst thing you could say” if Lehrmann had been found guilty.
There was no proof, defense attorney Steven Whybrow told the jury, that Brittany Higgins’ employment was in jeopardy as a result of the alleged rape. Pictured on Friday outside court is Ms. Higgins.
“You would claim that you returned to work. But he said to Ms. Brown, who was prepared to march him out, that he returned to drink rather than to work.
Are you certain that he would have stated it if he had committed rape?
Ms. Higgins’ original claim that she stored the dress she is accused of being raped in beneath her bed for nearly six months before cleaning it was used by Mr. Whybrow as evidence before the jury.
She eventually acknowledged in court that she had been misled about that time frame after being shown a photo of herself wearing the outfit around two months after the incident.
On February 6, 2021, she asks [police officer] Emma Frizzell about the dress and she replies, “I’ve washed it once but I haven’t worn it,” he said.
But she is aware that she has worn it more than once, and she can confirm this because she can recollect wearing it before or because she has seen a picture of her doing so.
This is a key factor in determining whether you regard her testimony as true beyond a reasonable doubt or if she just said whatever came to her mind.
‘Can you condemn this guy for what she claims he did – there is no DNA, no medical proof, and she says things to suit her,’ the prosecutor said.
Additionally, he implied that Ms. Higgins’s failure to show up for a doctor’s visit was “a huge thing.”
She reveals that she would see a doctor the next day to her employer, two police officers, and her on-again, off-again lover. He told the jury, “I gave it to her straight: the motive was to convince them to think that she had been sexually abused.
She didn’t because she didn’t need to—she didn’t engage in sexual activity with anybody. Since it hadn’t occurred, you are in fact excused from going.
Mr. Whybrow shot back at the prosecution’s assertions that the jury should take into account whether Ms. Higgins made up her claim.
He instructed the jury, “Onus of evidence is on the prosecution to establish the case beyond a reasonable doubt.”
It doesn’t matter whether she made it up; it also doesn’t matter if I persuaded you that she did.
The prosecutor’s definition of “corroborative” evidence, according to him, was limited to Ms. Higgins’ mother and former coworker, Nikita Irvine, who testified in court that Ms. Higgins seemed distressed and “broken” and that her account of events was accurate since she informed others.
That is not what corroborative evidence is, according to Mr. Whybrow.
He told the jury, “To some extent, it’s pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps.”
Whether the fundamental issue is inaccurate, it doesn’t matter if you tell 100 people that something occurred. You must examine her supporting documentation.
In order to save her employment, Mr. Whybrow allegedly told the jury that Ms. Higgins had a “motive to put in a fraudulent claim.”
It was her ideal position. He said, “It was to work in parliament, not for Reynolds.”
“This explains what she did,” he said. In the end, you can decide to reject it.
“I’m giving you a potential reason,” he said. However, if you disagree, the case against you is over.
In response to “hard” inquiries, the defense attorney also questioned Ms. Higgins’ trustworthiness.
He told the jurors, “When posed a difficult issue, she responds, “I was traumatized, I couldn’t get out of bed, you don’t know what trauma’s like.
You can believe that these are completely reasonable responses and that is sufficient, or you might believe that they are talking points that she recited when things became difficult.
Then Mr. Whybrow brought up how Ms. Higgins had erased text messages from her phone before giving it to the police.
He testified that she sent a message to a security officer in Parliament House at 1pm on March 23, 2019, the day she is claimed to have been raped, asking if anyone had seen her inside the building the previous evening.
A major piece of evidence, according to Mr. Whybrow, was based on what Carlos Ramos, a cleaner at Parliament House, stated when testifying last week: “He felt it was a two-to-three-hour work and assumed there had been a party.”
Someone had slept in the workplace nude, so it seemed natural that he may hunt for a condom, according to Mr. Whybrow, who said that this wasn’t uncommon.
Mr. Whybrow said that there was no steam cleaning since the man had no intention of erasing evidence.
He further alluded to the statement made by Mr. Ramos that the minister’s restroom had not been used and that no towels had been there.
I ask hypothetically, “What are the political factors at play?” “The cleaner was not sent in to destroy evidence, that’s probably the final piece of this indication of political forces at play.”
Then, to establish he did not have his keys on him as he had stated, Mr. Whybrow played to the court CCTV video of Ms. Higgins and Lehrmann passing through security at Parliament House. He did not have to take his keys out of his pocket to pass past the x-ray machine.
His phone was the only item he put in the security tray. The video captured Ms. Higgins’s last attempt to put on her shoes before giving up.
Additionally, Mr. Whybrow said that there was no “flirtatious or romantic” contact at Canberra bar The Dock on the alleged rape night.
If there had been, he said, it would have been recorded by CCTV and shown to the judge.
The inference of guilt, according to Mr. Whybrow, “begins with the notion that he was her keeper, that he was accountable for her.”
He read Lehrmann’s account of the events, which went like this: “He gone down [to his office in parliament] and he’s started to make some notes on a Question Time file about submarines, after talking to people from the navy [at the pub earlier that day], he then has missed six calls from his girlfriend, he probably says some variation of a four-letter word, calls an Uber and goes.”
‘How does he know that Ms. Higgins hasn’t already left?’ I asked. Why is it the only logical and fair assumption that he is aware she is dozing off in the minister’s suite? I submit that it isn’t.
The prosecutor claimed that Lehrmann left the building in a hurry three minutes before his Uber arrived while he was ordering the car, but later told police he left because his Uber was already there. Mr. Whybrow also addressed this claim.
According to Mr. Whybrow, Lehrmann lied because “he probably knows it’s a three-minute walk” from where he was, and he explained this to the jury. That’s a massive lie, right?
They claim that everything he stated was a lie, which demonstrates how weak the prosecution’s case is.
On Wednesday, Mr. Whybrow will wrap up his final comments.