Brittany Higgins: Bruce Lehrmann sex assault charge dropped, DPP confirms

Bruce Lehrmann will not face a second trial after the prosecution dropped the rape case against him due to the “unacceptable” risk to Brittany Higgins’ life.

ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold confirmed the end of the road for the prosecution on Friday, raising concerns about the unprecedented “personal attack” Ms Higgins has endured by sections of the public.

“As a sexual assault complainant, Ms Higgins has faced a level of personal attack that I have not seen in over 20 years of doing this work,” he said outside the DPP’s offices in Canberra.

“She has done so with bravery, grace and dignity, and it is my hope that this will now stop and Ms Higgins will be allowed to heal.”

Mr Lehrmann, who pleaded not guilty to a single charge of sexual intercourse without consent, was scheduled to front a retrial in the ACT Supreme Court in February next year.

It was alleged the offence took place inside Linda Reynolds’ ministerial office at Parliament House after a night out drinking with work colleagues in March 2019.

Mr Lehrmann pleaded not guilty and strenuously denied ever having sex with Ms Higgins.

He faced trial earlier this year but the jury was discharged in October after misconduct of one of the jurors was uncovered.

Mr Drumgold said he had decided to drop the case after receiving advice about the harm a retrial would have to Miss Higgins’ mental health.

“I have recently received compelling evidence from two independent medical experts that the ongoing trauma associated with this prosecution presents a significant and unacceptable risk to the life of the complainant,” he said.

“The evidence makes it clear that this is not limited to the harm of giving evidence in a witness box, rather applies whether or not the complainant is required to enter a witness box during a retrial.”

Ms Higgins is currently undergoing mental health treatment in a Queensland-based hospital after the “unrelenting” pressure of the past few years, friend Emma Webster said.

“Brittany is in hospital getting the treatment and support she needs,’’ Ms Webster said.

“The last couple of years have been difficult and unrelenting.

“While it’s disappointing the trial has ended this way, Brittany’s health and safety must always come first.

“Brittany is extremely grateful for all the support she has received, particularly from our mental health care workers.”

Defence lawyer for Mr Lehrmann Steven Whybrow refused to comment on the case when asked while exiting the ACT Supreme Court, insisting it would not be appropriate to make a statement at this time.

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