The trial for the man accused of raping Brittany Higgins in Parliament House has been hit by a slight delay as it enters its second week, with Ms Higgins unavailable to appear in court today.
The former Liberal staffer alleges Bruce Lehrmann sexually assaulted her in the ministerial office of Linda Reynolds in the early hours of March 23, 2019.
He has pleaded not guilty to a single charge of sexual intercourse without consent.
The jury has been told Ms Higgins, who was due to continue facing questions from Mr Lehrmann’s lawyer Steven Whybrow, under cross-examination, is unavailable for today’s trial proceedings. The prosecution will call new witnesses as a result.
Chief Justice Lucy McCallum informed the jury there would be a slight delay in proceedings this morning as the witnesses are gathered.
“The complainant is unavailable today, we propose to deal with that by calling some other witnesses but the prosecution needs a bit of time to herd the other witnesses that will be called to fill that space,” Chief Justice McCallum said.
The trial continues after an emotional day on the stand for Ms Higgins, with Mr Whybrow entering a line of questioning that caused her to break down on the witness stand.
The jury heard that in the days following her alleged assault, Ms Higgins sent a text message to her former chief of staff, Fiona Brown, asking for a day off so she could go see a doctor.
In her previous evidence, Ms Higgins told the court Ms Brown was the first person she had told about the alleged assault.
The court heard the former Liberal staffer never attended the GP appointment, with Mr Whybrow stating the reason for this was that she “hadn’t had sex with anyone on Friday night consensual or otherwise”.
“That’s not true,” Ms Higgins said.
Mr Whybrow continued, suggesting she told Ms Brown she needed to go to the doctor to “bolster your false accusation that something non-consensual had happened with Mr Lehrmann”.
“Nothing that you are saying right now is true whatsoever and it’s deeply insulting,” Ms Higgins replied.
The court also heard Ms Higgins had told her ex-partner, Ben Dillaway, that she had visited a GP in the wake of the assault, though she did not.
Mr Whybrow suggested the reason the didn’t follow through with any of the GP appointments is because she “hadn’t had sexual intercourse with Mr Lehrmann”.
“You are so incorrect. I don’t know if you’ve ever gone through a trauma before but confronting it head on with professionals is a really difficult thing to do,” Ms Higgins said, becoming visibly upset.
“I’d slowly started telling my inner circle of friends. It was very, very hard. I was bed bound. I was doing my best in extremely trying circumstances.
“I completely reject everything you are saying,” she said.