The final text messages between a former Victorian magistrate and his court clerk fiancee, moments before she tragically died, have been revealed.
Ashleigh Petrie, 23, tragically died on October 28, 2019, just weeks after her partner Rodney Higgins, then 68, proposed to her.
The couple had met while both working at a Victorian courthouse and, despite their 45 year age gap, began dating in 2019.
Their relationship was made public after their engagement, sparking debate about workplace power dynamics.
The pair had only recently become engaged during a trip to Fiji, with magistrates across Victorian courts being warned over inappropriate relationships with judicial officers.
“I just am sorry that a lot of people have been hurt out of this,” he said.
“The impression, if you like, was Ashleigh worked with me in court, and that I had some sort of hold on her.
“That’s completely untrue, we never, ever worked together.”
Mr Higgins spoke to the current affairs program about his final moments with Ms Petrie, on the night of October 28, 2019.
The couple had chatted into the night before having a spa and going to bed.
As they were in bed, Ms Petrie told her fiance she wanted to go for a walk.
“I want to clear my head,” Mr Higgins recounted his partner saying.
“A few minutes later she started to text me things like ‘you know you’ll be better off without me, I’ve ruined your career, I’m ruining your life, you’ll find someone’,” he added.
Mr Higgins said Ms Petrie promised to return home before sending four or five texts that “just got worse and worse”.
“’You wont see me again, know that you were the love of my life’ and then ‘goodbye,’” Mr Higgins said, his voice cracking with emotion.