Bruce Lehrmann had ‘bad vibes’ and wasn’t someone former colleague wanted to spend time with, court hears | Australia news #Bruce #Lehrmann #bad #vibes #wasnt #colleague #wanted #spend #time #court #hears #Australia #news

Bruce Lehrmann’s former colleague, an aide-de-camp for senator Linda Reynolds, has told the federal court she had “bad vibes” about him based on her “women’s intuition”.

The army major, Nikita Irvine, also said she discussed Brittany Higgins’ allegation of sexual assault against Lehrmann with both Reynolds and her chief of staff Fiona Brown.

“When I started in [Reynolds’] office, I had bad vibes on Bruce and his future in the office,” she said. “He’s not the sort of person I would have socialised with.”

“It was women’s intuition … I just didn’t really want to spend time with him.”

Irvine told the federal court she was present at The Dock on the evening of 22 March 2019 leading up to the alleged assault in Parliament House.

But she had no meaningful interactions with Lehrmann and Higgins and she did not accompany them after midnight to the 88mph nightclub.

In the week after the Saturday when Higgins claims she was assaulted, departmental liaison officer Chris Payne told her Lehrmann had been involved in an incident and no longer worked there, Irvine said.

Irvine said she later went for a walk with Higgins, who seemed “sad”, and she disclosed the alleged rape.

Irvine said: “I said, ‘Are you OK?’ She said ‘No’.”

Lehrmann is suing Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson for defamation over an interview with Higgins broadcast on The Project and online which did not name him in which she alleged she had been raped by a Liberal staffer in 2019.

Lehrmann has denied raping Higgins and pleaded not guilty to a charge of sexual intercourse without consent. His criminal trial was abandoned due to juror misconduct and a second trial did not proceed due to prosecutors’ fears for Higgins’ mental health.

Irvine told the court Higgins confided to her that she was getting a lift home with Lehrmann from the nightclub and he said he wanted to show her some whisky and he stopped off at Parliament House. Then she woke up on the minister’s couch and Lehrmann was “on top of her”.

Irvine said she believed Higgins was telling her she had been sexually assaulted by Lehrmann: “I took that to mean it was an assault.”

Irvine said she spoke to Reynolds about the alleged assault because she “just thought it was important”.

“I didn’t obviously tell anyone else,” Irvine said. “I just wanted to tell my two bosses that I knew because I thought that was appropriate. I told Linda Reynolds when we were sitting next to each other on a plane and on a tarmac in Canberra.

“I told her and all she said was ‘Yes, I feel very sick. Nothing like this has ever happened to me’. And I just left it at that.”

Irvine said she separately had a conversation with Brown.

“I said ‘Fiona, Brittany has told me what’s happened’. And she said ‘yes, it’s very disconcerting’,” Irvine told the court. “She mentioned that Bruce was already in trouble over a security incident… but he wasn’t hard to get rid of and they moved him on pretty quickly.”

Earlier, the court heard from Parliament House security guard Nikola Anderson, who said after 4am she went to do a welfare check on Higgins, announcing herself several times when she entered the suite.

She said Higgins’ white dress and shoes were next to the couch and “it just looked like it had been taken off and thrown on the floor”. She said Higgins was “completely naked” and she opened her eyes and looked at her but did not speak.

“She rolled over into the foetal position and faced the desk, the minister’s desk,” Anderson said.

Another witness, Higgins’ ex-boyfriend Ben Dillaway, said Higgins was initially adamant that the incident be kept quiet because she was worried about “becoming known as the girl who was raped in Parliament”.

Dillaway said Higgins was “very invested in her career” and after the alleged assault she put on a brave face but was struggling emotionally.

The court heard Higgins’ former boss, Fiona Brown, has asked to be excused from giving evidence due to her “vulnerable” mental health. Justice Michael Lee said he will decide if her affidavit is sufficient or if the live stream should be stopped while Brown gives her evidence

The hearing continues at 10.15am on Friday.

#Bruce #Lehrmann #bad #vibes #wasnt #colleague #wanted #spend #time #court #hears #Australia #news

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