16 October 2022

Brittany Higgins' mother says her daughter is 'not the same person' after alleged rape

| Albert McKnight
Kelly Higgins

Kelly Higgins leaves court after testifying in Bruce Lehrmann’s trial on Wednesday. Photo: Albert McKnight.

CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses an alleged sexual assault.

The mother of Brittany Higgins has told jurors in Bruce Lehrmann’s trial that she noticed her daughter “looked broken” around the time of the alleged rape at Parliament House.

Kelly Higgins said in late 2018 her daughter would have just turned 23 and moved to Canberra to work for Defence Industries Minister Steven Ciobo, Mr Lehrmann’s ACT Supreme Court trial heard on Wednesday (12 October).

“This was Brittany’s dream. This was everything she wanted,” she said.

“She was extremely excited.”

But she noticed a change in her daughter between March and April 2019.

“Brittany became very distant. Brittany became very quiet,” Kelly said.

“She’d lost a lot of weight; she got quite thin. She just looked quite broken.”

Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold SC asked if Brittany had mentioned an event to her and Kelly replied she had, but “in a vague way”.

Woman walking to court surrounded by cameras

Brittany Higgins arrives at court for the start of Bruce Lehrmann’s trial. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

She said Brittany had mentioned what she called “a work incident” while helping with Minister Linda Reynolds’ campaign in Western Australia in the lead-up to the May 2019 election.

“She wasn’t yet ready to communicate or go into detail,” Kelly said.

She said she wasn’t told more until they went to a restaurant in November 2019 and Brittany said, “I want to talk about it”.

READ ALSO Bruce Lehrmann tells his version of night he allegedly raped Brittany Higgins

Kelly said her daughter told her she had gone out for work drinks and had been drinking heavily before saying she wanted to go home.

She said a decision was made that Brittany would share a lift home in a taxi with Mr Lehrmann, whom Kelly only called “the gentleman”, but they ended up at Parliament House where she sat on the lounge in Ms Reynolds’ office and looked out the window.

Man and woman leaving court

Brittany Higgins’ mother Kelly Higgins leaves court with a supporter after testifying on Wednesday. Photo: Albert McKnight.

“For her, this was her dream. This was everything she wanted and she just remembers feeling kind of proud and happy,” Kelly said.

Kelly said her daughter told her she passed out and alleged she had woken up to find “the gentleman” on top of her, raping her. The date of the alleged rape was 23 March 2019.

READ ALSO ‘He was violating me’: Brittany Higgins’ fiery cross-examination resumes

Mr Drumgold asked what Brittany’s emotional state was like in this conversation.

“She was almost unfamiliar in her emotional state, she was almost unfamiliar in her character,” Kelly said.

“She was just so frozen in what had happened to her.

“[She was] not the same person.”

Man walking to court

Bruce Lehrmann arrives at court for the start of his trial. Photo: Albert McKnight.

Jurors had also heard from Ms Higgins’ housemate Alex Humphreys on Tuesday (12 October), who said when Ms Higgins moved into their home in early 2019 she was bubbly and lovely.

“She was just so enthusiastic about landing her dream job,” she said.

But she remembered Ms Higgins changing around the time of the campaign leading up to the May 2019 election, which she originally put down to work-related stress.

“She stayed in her room a lot and, for the last couple of months she lived with us anyway, it was really hard to get her out,” Ms Humphreys said.

“She didn’t really come to a lot of social gatherings after that, she sort of kept to herself – and I tried.”

The trial, in which 27-year-old Mr Lehrmann has pleaded not guilty to a charge of sexual intercourse without consent, continues before Chief Justice Lucy McCallum.

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