A legal watchdog has been asked to investigate a 68-year-old magistrate who is engaged to a 23-year-old court clerk.
Grandfather-of-eight Rod Higgins proposed to Ashleigh Petrie, from Mirboo North in Victoria, during a romantic trip to Fiji in September after just months of dating.
Victoria’s Attorney-General Jill Hennessy has said their relationship did not break any rules – but shadow attorney-general Ed O’Donohue has demanded an investigation into whether the couple’s relationship is appropriate given their respective roles with the court.
Grandfather-of-eight Rod Higgins proposed to Ashleigh Petrie (pictured together), from Mirboo North in Victoria, during a romantic trip to Fiji in September
Ashleigh Petre, 23, who is engaged to 68-year-old magistrate Rob Higgins, has previously another magistrate, 59
Shadow attorney-general Ed O’Donohue has demanded an investigation into Miss Petrie’s (pictured) relationship with Rod Higgins
Mr O’Donohue has written to the Judicial Commission of Victoria to request a probe into Mr Higgins.
According to the Herald Sun, he cited the relationship with Ms Petrie as a reason to investigate – even though the pair do not work together.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Mr O’Donohue and the Judicial Commission of Victoria for comment.
Before she started dating Mr Higgins, Miss Petrie reportedly had a brief relationship with another magistrate who is 59.
The fling lasted a little over a month before Miss Petrie officially started dating Mr Higgins earlier this year.
Miss Petrie admitted the relationship to the Herald Sun but refused to comment.
Earlier this month Daily Mail Australia revealed that before her romance with the magistrates she was in a relationship with Mr Higgins’ 48-year-old neighbour, entrepreneur Stuart Gowty for five years.
The couple lived together in Shepparton, north Victoria, where Mr Gowty runs his own picture framing business.
Ashleigh Petrie, said yes to grandfather-of-eight Rod Higgins (pictured together) when he proposed during a trip to Fiji last month
Miss Petrie is pictured with her current beau Mr Higgins who proposed to her last month after a whirlwind romance
Their next-door neighbour was Mr Higgins who worked as a lawyer in the town before he was made a magistrate in 2017.
During her relationship with Mr Gowty, Miss Petrie often posted photos of them enjoying dates together on social media.
They watched footy games at the MCG, spent a day at the Shepparton Showgrounds and went for lavish lunches and dinners at local restaurants.
Miss Petrie would often add affectionate captions to the photos, calling Mr Gowty ‘the love of my life’ and ‘my baby’.
But before her whirlwind romance with the magistrate, Miss Petrie dated entrepreneur Stuart Gowty (pictured together) for five years
It appears her friends were aware of her mature taste as one commented on an Instagram photo (above) with the words: ‘Jesus. You are a serial old man dater’
It appears her friends were aware of her mature taste as one commented on an Instagram photo with the words: ‘Jesus. You are a serial old man dater’.
Miss Petrie met Mr Higgins while she was dating Mr Gowty and the pair began a secret relationship last year.
Mr Gowty was left embarrassed and devastated when he found out in December, a source told Daily Mail Australia.
Mr Higgins and Miss Petrie now live together in Mirboo North, four hours from Shepparton.
Last month he whisked her away to Fiji where he popped the question.
The clerk excitedly accepted and called him ‘the love of her life’ in a gushing Facebook post where she showed off pictures of her sparkly new ring.
Love is in the air: A 68-year-old magistrate and a 23-year-old court clerk (pictured) are engaged
Last month and Mr Higgins proposed during a romantic holiday in Fiji. Pictured: The couple on holiday
Magistrate Rodney Higgins proposed to his girlfriend Ashleigh Petrie, 23, in September. She is pictured right and left with her ring
The relationship has been disclosed to Victoria’s chief magistrate Peter Lauritsen after many lawyers raised eyebrows at the unusual arrangement.
A spokesman for Mr Lauritsen said: ‘The Chief Magistrate has no comment on the personal lives of magistrates or staff.’
Miss Petrie announced her engagement to the father-of-three while still in Fiji.
‘What an amazing 10 days it has been here in Fiji! Firstly, I arrived as Rod’s girlfriend and I leave as rod fiancé! I cannot wait to become Mrs Higgins!’ she wrote online.
‘It started with a crush and now I have a ring on my finger. The love of my life asked me to marry him and I said YESSSS.’
‘I don’t know how I got so lucky to find such a sweet and caring man with the same sense of humour, this amazing man is the love of my life!’
During their trip, the pair went zip lining, met a Fijian tribe and swam in the sea together, according to their numerous social media posts.
A source told the Herald Sun that Ms Petrie and Mr Higgins are now trying for a baby.
The relationship has been disclosed to Victoria’s chief magistrate Peter Lauritsen after many lawyers raised eyebrows at the unusual arrangement. Pictured: The couple at the beach
Miss Petrie excitedly accepted and called him ‘the love of her life’ after he proposed. The couple is pictured together