Brittany Higgins bruise photo challenged in court during Bruce Lehrmann trial

A photograph of a bruise on Brittany Higgins’ leg, which she told the court that she assumed was sustained during the alleged sexual assault is “a fabrication,’’ a lawyer for the accused has told the ACT Supreme Court.

During cross examination of Ms Higgins on Friday, Bruce Lehrmann’s lawyer Steve Whybrow, suggested to her that there was no reference to the bruise photo found in an examination of her phone devices, until 2021 when she provided it to journalists.

“I suggest that the photograph of the bruise and your assertion that it was an injury sustained during this assault is a fabrication?” Mr Whybrow said.

Higgins responded: “OK sure, I reject you completely.”

Further witnesses are scheduled to give evidence in the trial this week, including Peter Reid, the expert that AFP Senior Constable Emma Frizzell told the Supreme Court had examined Ms Higgins’ phones in May 2021.

Bruce Lehrmann was charged with one count of sexual intercourse without consent on August 6, 2021.

He has pleaded not guilty and told police in an interview played to the court that it simply “never happened.”

Court told Brittany Higgins was reluctant to hand over phone

Ms Higgins conducted her first evidence in chief interview with AFP officers on February 24 iin 2021 in Queensland.

Senior constable Emma Frizzell told the court that Ms Higgins did not hand her phone to police until May 26, 2021, despite being asked for it in February of that year.

Ms Higgins has told the court that the reason why she was reluctant to hand over the mobile phone on February 24, 2021 was because on that same day she conducted the police interview she learned something about the “information flow” between police and Parliament House that upset her.

“Ms Higgins had referred to a media article or something that was in the media that morning in relation to Minister Dutton,’’ Ms Frizell told the court.

“As a result of that she was concerned about the information flow.”

Peter Dutton revelation “terrified” Brittany Higgins

Ms Higgins told the Court on October 7 she was “terrified” after discovering contact with police was ultimately reported back to then Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton before the story broke.

She discovered this on February 24, the same day she spoke to police and was supposed to hand over the phones.

“Before I had given a formal statement to police there is a provision that any politically sensitive, I don’t know, potential court cases, like politically sensitive matters that are within the remit of police gets reported to the home affairs minister,’’ she said.

“Peter Dutton came out and said that he had the baseline information of my complaint before I even gave an evidence-in-chief interview. I know how information flows within the ministerial wing. I was very, very scared.

“So I was seeking legal advice to know my rights because I was terrified.”

Three months later, the AFP conducted a second police interview in Canberra on May 26.

At that meeting she agreed to hand her mobile phone to the police to download all of the messages and photographs on the device.

Police examined Brittany Higgins’ phone

Police then examined Ms Higgins phone on July 9.

On July 14, Ms Higgins provided two further phones.

“On 22 July 2021, did you provide those two additional mobile phones to Peter Reid?,’’ Mr Whybrow asked.

“Yes, I did,’’ Ms Frizzell replied.

Mr Reid will give evidence this week.

“Was it the case that you were unable to locate any evidence indicating that photograph had been taken in March or April 2019?” Mr Whybrow asked Senior constable Frizzell.

Ms Frizzell replied: “I did not locate the image of the injury in that time period.”

When Mr Whybrow asked whether it “could have been as late as January 21 when it showed up in that data?,” she agreed.

The court was told Ms Higgins did not mention the bruise to police on April 1, 2019

During cross examination last week, Mr Whybrow put it to Ms Higgins that she had not mentioned the bruise to the police when she first spoke to them on April 1, 2019.

Her initial meeting with police was two days before she says the photo was taken around April 3, 2019.

Ms Higgins told the court she remembered being asked to keep photos by police later and so she kept a photo of the bruise.

Mr Whybrow said that when she spoke to two AFP officers on April 1, the first she spoke, she did not mention the bruise.

“You didn’t say anything about having a big bruise on your leg, did you?,’’ he asked.

“Not that I recall to police. Not at that point, no,’’ Ms Higgins replied.

When she spoke to Detective Harman on April 8, Mr Whybrow said he wanted to “suggest you didn’t make any reference then to you having had a big bruise on your leg?.”

Ms Higgins said she believed she did and that he asked her to keep any relevant photographs although conceded he did not specifically ask her to retain the bruise photo because, Mr Whybrow suggested, it was not mentioned.

“I want to suggest that there is no reference, you didn’t make any reference to anybody else before January 2021 to having suffered a bruise on your leg?

“I don’t believe that’s true. I don’t know who I would have particularly disclosed it to, but I think when I was relaying the events of the assault I think it would have come up.”

During cross examination, Mr Whybrow noted that while she had given evidence it was taken around five days later, if she took it on April 3, 2019, it would have been about 12 or 13 days after what you say happened on the night of the 22nd?

“Yes. I just remember it being Budget week and the actual date itself I don’t really recall specifically,’ she replied.

Lost WhatsApp messages

During cross examination, Ms Higgins also said she had lost some material when she was handing back government devices.

“No, no, I lost all of my WhatsApps when I transitioned my phone so I lost all of my WhatsApps from essentially like when I transitioned my phone and handed back all over my devices to the government because I don’t own my devices,’’ she said.

“I didn’t realise I hadn’t backed up my WhatsApp so I had no qualms with this. I am not ashamed of any of these communications.

“But I don’t have them anymore.”

The trial continues

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