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Brittany Higgins’ former boyfriend Ben Dillaway flew to Canberra after suspecting she had been sexually assaulted, court hears

Brittany Higgins’ former boyfriend Ben Dillaway flew to Canberra after suspecting she had been sexually assaulted, court hears
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Brittany Higgins broke down sobbing in the arms of her then-boyfriend days after being allegedly raped by Bruce Lehrmann in Parliament House, a court has heard.

Ben Dillaway says he flew to Canberra on March 27 in 2019 to support Higgins after suspecting she had been sexually assaulted the weekend before.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Former Brittany Higgins colleague claims ‘bad vibes’ from Bruce Lehrmann

Watch the latest news and stream for free on 7plus >>

Giving evidence in a defamation trial on Thursday, Dillaway said that Higgins was crying and sobbing in his arms.

“She was very upset and appeared very broken,” he told the Federal Court.

Dillaway said while he could not recall the exact words spoken, he took away from the discussion that Higgins had been raped or sexually assaulted.

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The following week, Higgins allegedly told him she was struggling at work, had experienced panic attacks and had confined herself to a Parliament House bathroom to cry.

She also told him she did not want a soul to know about the alleged incident, Dillaway said.

“She had concerns about becoming known as the girl who was raped in parliament.”

Ben Dillaway. Credit: Bianca De Marchi /AAP

Lehrmann is suing Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson for defamation over a February 2021 report on The Project regarding Higgins’ allegation.

The ex-Liberal staffer denies that any sexual contact or intimacy occurred between himself and Higgins.

Nikola Anderson was working as a security guard about 1.30am on March 23, 2019 when she escorted Higgins and Lehrmann to the office of Senator Linda Reynolds.

Anderson testified to the court that she conducted a welfare check about 4.30am after Higgins failed to come out of the suite.

In an affidavit, she said Higgins was naked on the minister’s couch and had opened her eyes to look at her.

“She rolled over into the fetal position and faced the desk, the minister’s desk,” she told the court.

Higgins’ dress and shoes were on the floor next to the lounge, her makeup appeared to be intact and she did not appear to be in any distress, Anderson said.

Bruce Lehrmann Credit: Bianca De Marchi /AAP

Mark Fairweather, the other security guard who signed Lehrmann and Higgins into Parliament House, said the pair did not seem to be too drunk going through the metal detectors.

“I would have refused entry if I believed they were heavily intoxicated,” he told Justice Michael Lee.

Fairweather said when Lehrmann left later on, he was walking hastily while looking down at his phone.

Major Nikita Irvine worked as Senator Reynolds’ aide de camp at the time of the alleged rape and told the court she got “bad vibes” from Lehrmann.

“When I started at that office, I had bad vibes on Bruce and his future,” she said.

When Ten’s barrister Matthew Collins KC asked what she meant, Irvine could not give a precise answer.

“It’s women’s intuition, Dr Collins. I’m sorry, I just didn’t want to spend time with him.”

Irvine said Higgins had disclosed to her about the claimed sexual assault days after the alleged event and the pair had discussed the matter further four more times over the following weeks.

Lehrmann has already had $445,000 in legal bills covered under two defamation settlements with News.com.au and the ABC over their media reports airing Higgins’ rape allegations.

He was charged in August 2021 over the alleged rape, but his criminal trial in the ACT Supreme Court was derailed by juror misconduct.

Prosecutors did not seek a second trial, citing concerns for Higgins’ mental health.

Lehrmann is also before Queensland courts accused of raping another woman twice in Toowoomba in October 2021.

He has not yet entered a plea, but his lawyers have indicated he denies the charges.

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