Jul 28, 2020 @ 14:07
UK tabloid’s lawyers assail Johnny Depp as libel trial nears end
by Sylvain PEUCHMAURD
Lawyers for a British tabloid on Monday described Johnny Depp as a “hopeless addict” unable to “restrain his anger” as they concluded their defence in the Hollywood actor’s libel claim.
The legal team for The Sun newspaper claimed Depp was abusive and violent towards ex-wife Amber Heard on the penultimate day in over three weeks of headline-grabbing testimony in a London court.
The “Pirates of the Caribbean” star is suing News Group Newspapers (NGN), its publisher, and the author of a 2018 article that labelled him a “wife beater”.
Depp has denied 14 claims of violence that NGN said were proof of their allegations, and he portrayed Heard as calculating and dishonest during the blockbuster trial at the High Court, which began on July 7.
The couple met on the set of the 2011 film “The Rum Diary”, married in 2015 but divorced acrimoniously two years later.
The actor has countered her claims of abuse by alleging Heard attacked him regularly and that he only acted out against her in self defence.
But summarising for the defence, lawyer Sasha Wass said Depp was often “so severely impaired by drug use” that he may not have been aware of the extent of his “violence and terrifying behaviour”.
She argued the court had heard a “wealth of evidence” to support Heard’s allegations, including witnesses’ testimonies, text messages and emails.
“This paints a picture of a hopeless addict who repeatedly lost his self control and all ability to restrain his anger,” Wass said.
– ‘The monster’ –
The defence lawyer accused Depp of “irrational mood swings and abnormal behavioural patterns”, and of previously nicknaming his violent alter ego “the monster”.
She said Heard was “so in love” with Depp early in their marriage, but once he began abusing illegal drugs and alcohol in 2013 the actress became all too aware of his violent personality.
“Mr Depp did indeed beat his wife,” the lawyer said.
Wass also countered arguments by his legal team that no witnesses had actually seen him hit Heard, noting domestic violence by its very nature is often hidden from view.
She also rejected suggestions that Heard, who took the witness stand for several days last week, had given anything other than truthful evidence throughout the case.
“The days are long past when the courts in this country required corroboration before accepting the unsupported testimony of a female complainant,” she said.
“We submit… that the testimony of a complainant of domestic violence is sufficient to prove the case, provided that the complainant — Ms Heard in this case — gives credible and reliable evidence.”
Wass accused Depp and his lawyers of adopting “old-fashioned methods used to discredit a woman: that she is a gold-digger, a shrew and an adulterer.”
The actor’s legal team is due to give its final statements on Tuesday.
The case will then be decided by Judge Andrew Nicol.
© Agence France-Presse