Jury in Brittany Higgins’ accused rapist’s trial to enter their FIFTH day of deliberations
Released: 1:13 AM EDT, Oct. 24, 2022 | Updated: 1:13 AM EDT, Oct. 24, 2022
The jury in the trial of accused Brittany Higgins rapist will enter their fifth day of deliberations.
Bruce Lehrmann is accused of raping the former Liberal staff member at Parliament House after a night out in March 2019.
He has pleaded not guilty to having sex without consent and is facing trial in the ACT Supreme Court.
On Monday afternoon, Chief Justice Lucy McCallum told the 12-person jury: “Thank you for your continued hard work. I’ll divorce you now and go home.’
They will return to court at 10am on Tuesday for further deliberation.
Earlier Monday, the jury sent a note to Chief Justice Lucy McCallum asking for more time.
Brittany Higgins (pictured) claimed Bruce Lehrmann raped her after a night out in Parliament House in March 2019
The jury asked the Chief Justice for more time Monday morning. By mid-afternoon, they hadn’t made a decision. Pictured: Bruce Lehrman
The note read: “We have not yet reached an agreement beyond reproach.”
Chief Justice McCallum urged her to “relax” and urged her not to rush the decision.
“There is no rush, there is no time limit… There are no expectations. You can and should take whatever time you need,’ said the Chief Justice.
The jury was asked to retire by about 3 p.m. Wednesday and were ordered to give a unanimous verdict.
Before they were sent home for the weekend on Friday, Judge Lucy McCallum reminded them not to check social media or speak to anyone about the case.
“Please keep the reminders I’ve given you in mind as you will be interacting with a wider range of people over the weekend,” Justice McCallum said.
“It is extremely important at this stage that you do not engage in a conversation. You could accidentally get in touch with someone who could tell you something that could be problematic.
“Take a social media vacation.”
The defense attorney suggested Ms Higgins fabricated doctor’s appointments at the time to “make more believable” that she had been sexually assaulted
She also reminded them that Lehrmann was presumed innocent and it was up to prosecutors to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
In his closing argument last week, prosecutor Shane Drumgold asked the jury to disregard discussions about political movements and workplace cultures that the case sparked.
He said the case is not about the culture in Parliament or the me-too movement, but about what happened on a couch in a minister’s office in the early hours of March 23, 2019.
Mr Drumgold said Ms Higgins was a credible and honest witness whose version of events that night did not waver.
Meanwhile, he said Lehrmann had given conflicting accounts to the security forces, his boss and the police as to why he was in Parliament on the night of the alleged attack.
Lehrmann will soon learn his fate. He has pleaded not guilty to a single charge of having sex without consent
The prosecutor suggested Lehrmann’s intention was to go to Houses of Parliament so he could be alone with the “drunk” and “vulnerable” Ms Higgins.
Lehrmann’s defense attorney, Steven Whybrow, told the court that nothing happened that night and suggested Ms Higgins made up her account to save her job.
He said a closer look at her evidence made the prosecution’s case against his client “completely untenable.”
Mr Whybrow pointed out inconsistencies in Ms Higgins’ story, including the fact that she had told police and others that she had attended doctor’s appointments following the alleged attack.
He suggested Ms Higgins was fabricating doctor’s appointments at the time to “make more believable” that she had been sexually assaulted.