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Amber Heard arrives at court for closing stages of bombshell libel trial

Johnny Depp’s ‘deep misogyny’ was at the root of his anger that manifested as violence towards Amber Heard, the closing stages of his libel trial was told today, as emails and texts were read out in which he used words like ‘whore’ and ‘slut’ to refer to his ex-wife and other women.

The Hollywood star stayed away from today’s session at the High Court in London, which heard how his self-description as a ‘Southern gentlemen who had respect for women’ was ‘entirely untrue’. 

The hard-hitting claims were made as Sasha Wass QC, representing the Sun newspaper, delivered the defence’s final submission in the high-profile libel case which has rocked the showbiz world with sensational revelations of Depp’s troubled relationship with the Aquaman actress. 

Over the past three weeks, the hearing has heard from Depp, Heard and 25 other witnesses who have provided graphic testimony of their stormy relationship and details of Depp’s excessive use of alcohol and drug binges.

Depp, 57, is suing News Group Newspapers, publishers of the Sun and executive editor Dan Wootton over a 2018 article which referred to him as a ‘wife beater’. 

It appeared under the headline ‘Gone Potty How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife-beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?’

Heard did attend court today and was pictured smiling alongside girlfriend Bianca Butti, before waving at awaiting fans outside the Royal Courts of Justice. 

Depp is to return to the High Court on Tuesday when his lawyer David Sherborne will deliver his final submission. 

As the blockbuster trial nears its conclusion, the High Court heard today:

Ms Wass said there was ‘overwhelming evidence of domestic violence or wife-beating behaviour, cataloged over a three-year period.’ 

She said Depp was ‘a hopeless addict who repeatedly lost his self-control and all ability to restrain his anger.’

‘Permeating all of the evidence in this case is the character of Mr. Depp himself – his well-documented evidence of violence and destruction over his adult life which have occurred when he was under the influence of drink and drugs.’

Ms Wass added that Depp ‘was subject to irrational mood swings and abnormal behavioral patterns, which would not have been present when Mr. Depp was clean and sober, and Mr. Depp has a name for this metamorphosed entity – namely, The Monster.’

She said: ‘The other aspect which is important in terms of substance abuse is Mr Depp’s recollection of his own disgraceful conduct, which is so severely impaired by drug misuse that he may not even have been aware of the extent of his violence and terrifying behaviour which, on more than one of these pleaded incidents, put Ms Heard in fear of her life.’

Depp and Heard met on the set of the 2011 comedy ‘The Rum Diary’ and married in Los Angeles in February 2015. Heard filed for divorce the following year, and the divorce was finalized in 2017.

The former spouses have both been in court during three weeks of testimony at the grand neo-Gothic court building.

Ms Wass reminded Mr Justice Nicol there were ‘well-documented episodes of violence and destruction’ over Depp’s adult life and that the actor had accepted he was violent to inanimate objects but not people.

However, she said there was an incident earlier in his career when he assaulted a photographer with a plank of wood when under the influence of drink and drugs.

She also said his evidence that he was not violent towards people was ‘meaningless’ when he was as intoxicated as he was on occasions and ‘wouldn’t have known what he was doing’.

Ms Wass continued: ‘In answer to what we suggest is overwhelming evidence of domestic violence or wife-beating behaviour, catalogued over a three-year period between 2013 and 2016, Mr Depp’s response is to claim that he is a victim of an elaborate hoax that has been perpetrated against him by Ms Heard and her friends.’

The barrister said Depp had accused Heard and her friends of ‘having painted on injuries, manipulated photographs and destroyed property which they then went on to photograph in order to create what he describes as some sort of insurance policy for Ms Heard’.

Ms Wass added: ‘What exactly Ms Heard was insuring against in the course of this hoax remains unexplained.’

She told the court that such a hoax ‘would have entailed Ms Heard engaging in a pre-planned conspiracy over the period of the entire relationship with Mr Depp’, adding: ‘Such a suggestion, we say, is risible.’

Ms Wass told the court: ‘The approach taken by Mr Depp from the time Ms Heard obtained a domestic violence restraining order against him on May 27 2016 was as follows: to deny that he ever assaulted Ms Heard, to accuse Ms Heard of being the violent party and to reverse his role with hers.’

The barrister also referred to ‘the story released to the media and published in early June 2016 suggesting that Ms Heard had been arrested for domestic violence in the past, that incident dated back to 2009’.

She added: ‘It was no coincidence, we suggest, that this emerged within days of Ms Heard being granted protection of the court by way of a restraining order.

‘Shortly before that article was published in the press, Stephen Deuters, Mr Depp’s assistant, was receiving information from people by text who had clearly been prying into Ms Heard’s relationship with (her ex-partner, Tasya) van Ree.’

Ms Wass said: ‘No charges were brought against Ms Heard following her arrest and Ms van Ree herself has denied that any assault took place.’

She added: ‘This aspect of the case is a red herring.’

Ms Wass said that ‘there was another suggestion, or another attempt to resurrect the suggestion, that Ms Heard was the violent party’ last week when Ms Heard’s sister Whitney Henriquez was shown a video of herself on a reality show from 2006.

The barrister said Ms Henriquez ‘flatly denied that the fatuous exchange that was recorded on that television show was a reference to physical violence’ against her by Ms Heard.

Ms Wass added: ‘That piece of evidence is nothing more than a red herring – it has no bearing whatsoever on whether Mr Depp hit Ms Heard.’

Mr Justice Nicol intervened to say: ‘If it were the case that all that Mr Depp was doing, to the extent that he was violent towards Ms Heard, was defending himself then that would not assist the defendants in proving the truth of the alleged libel that Mr Depp is a wife beater.’

Ms Wass replied: ‘I agree, it would have to be unlawful violence, namely not in self-defence.’

Ms Wass continued that ‘the way the case has been put forward’ by Mr Depp’s lawyers ‘assumes that if it can be proved … Ms Heard had struck him on one occasion … this absolves Mr Depp from any responsibility for the many occasions when he assaulted her’.

She added: ‘It is as though Mr Depp is seeking to justify his physical assaults on Ms Heard on the basis that she may have deserved it from something she had done on some other occasion.’

Ms Wass said that the case was not about whether Ms Heard ‘fought back or even lost her temper’.

The barrister told Mr Justice Nicol: ‘The issue is whether Mr Depp used unlawful violence against Ms Heard and one only has to look at (a) picture of Ms Heard and Mr Depp together.’

Ms Wass showed a picture of the couple to the court, which she said gave ‘a clear indication of the respective physical capabilities’ of Mr Depp and Ms Heard.

She said: ‘One only has to look at that picture to see that Ms Heard lacked the physical capabilities to be the successful party in any fight.’

Ms Wass then referred to a recording of a conversation between Mr Depp and Ms Heard, in which the latter ‘told Mr Depp that no jury would believe that she, a woman weighing 115 pounds, would be able to beat Mr Depp’.

The barrister said: ‘The meaning of this sentence has been distorted by the claimant.

‘Ms Heard was not saying she could lie to a jury, she was saying that no right-minded person would believe that she, given their respective sizes, was beating him and that he was the defenceless victim.’

Ms Wass added: ‘This is only another example of Mr Depp attempting to reverse the role of victim and offender and this is a ploy that he has utilised throughout this case.

‘When he, Mr Depp, is accused of violence, he claims that she was the violent party. When he is accused of drinking to excess, he claims she was the drinker.

‘When he is accused of being a drug addict, he accuses her of being the heavy drug user.’

Sasha Wass QC told the court: ‘The incident in Australia provides a cogent account and a graphic account of how Mr Depp behaved when fortified with a surfeit of drink and drugs and the extent, the extraordinary extent, of the damage and the extraordinary extent of his deranged behaviour, not seeking medical advice for the injury to his finger but going on to deface the property in his own blood and then in paint, naming the person who was the subject of his jealousy, Billy Bob Thornton and his wife.’

Sasha Wass then moved on to ‘the staircase incident’, also in March 2015, when Johnny Depp is said to have repeatedly hit Amber Heard in the head in Los Angeles.

The barrister said: ‘Despite Mr Depp and Ms Heard’s joint experience in Australia, neither chose to split and this is a further illustration of the complexity of the relationship.’

Ms Wass said Ms Heard admitted punching Mr Depp ‘in an attempt to protect her sister (Whitney Henriquez) and this is the only incident in which Ms Heard accepts causing injury to Mr Depp’.

She added: ‘Mr Depp went on to punch Amber Heard with his right hand which was covered in a plaster cast at the time.’

Ms Wass referred to a suggestion by Mr Depp’s lawyers that Ms Heard had not mentioned the fact that the actor’s hand was in a cast, and said: ‘In fact, Amber Heard made a declaration in the American libel proceedings which mentions the cast in relation to this incident… so the suggestion that is a recent fabrication is completely inaccurate.’

Sasha Wass said that, following ‘the staircase incident’, Johnny Depp ‘made efforts to destroy Ms Heard’s wardrobe… and there were pictures of the damage, clothes strewn all over the floor’ taken after the incident.

She said: ‘Mr Depp has offered no explanation for this destruction, but it is an indicator of his mood, of his frame of mind and his aggression.

‘The likelihood of Ms Heard destroying her own wardrobe, we suggest, is inconceivable.’

Ms Wass added: ‘It is significant, we say, that shortly after Whitney Henriquez witnessed first-hand the violence of Mr Depp against her sister that Mr Depp accused her of leaking photographs of his wedding to media.’

She also said: ‘These two sisters, who had always been so close, were then estranged for many months.’

Ms Wass QC continued, following the incident, Depp ‘made another attempt to remain clean and sober, or I should say get clean and sober’.

She told the court: ‘He had to return to film Pirates Of The Caribbean in Australia and Ms Heard agreed to go with him.’

Ms Wass added: ‘It was suggested to Ms Heard that she would never have returned to the house in Australia had it been the scene of such a dreadful assault and, yet again, we suggest this belies what is known about the complexity of domestic violence.

‘Assaults on Ms Heard took place at a number of addresses the couple had shared.’

She continued: ‘But, most importantly, the Mr Depp who went back to Australia on April 21 2015 was a very different man from the monster who had been present at the early part of April and it appears that Mr Depp had made a real effort to renounce drink and drugs.’

Ms Wass referred to a text from Mr Depp to Jerry Judge around that time in which the actor said the couple were ‘perfect – all I had to do was send the monster away and lock him up”

The barrister said: ‘This text demonstrates that Mr Depp was perfectly aware that taking drink and drugs led to a lack of control and unleashed a violent monster, the Mr Depp who was the hopeless addict.’

Ms Wass also told London’s High Court about the evidence in relation to the couple’s honeymoon in July 2015 on a train in south-east Asia.

Delivering her final submission on behalf of the Sun newspaper, who are being sued by Depp after a 2018 article referred to him as a ‘wife beater’, she said Heard described an argument during which Depp assaulted her.

She said this contradicted the actor’s evidence, which was that he had not been violent towards his wife in any way.

The barrister referred to Heard’s handwritten diary entry from July 27 2015, in which she said the actress gave a ‘graphic description’ of Depp trying to strangle her with her own shirt.

Ms Wass said that, despite Depp saying he was not violent towards Heard in his evidence, the actor said in a September 2015 audio recording of the couple discussing their relationship that they had a great time ‘other than we had a fight on the train which was physical’.

She said the conversation was not simply about Heard being responsible for all the violence, but that Depp was also accepting being physical, which she said was ‘completely absent from his witness statement or his evidence in this case’.

Ms Wass said in another part of the conversation, Depp ‘appears to be accepting that he is the culprit the majority of the time’ and that he says sometimes ‘I just freak out’.

The barrister said: ‘That is exactly what this case is about, Mr Depp freaking out after he has taken too many illegal drugs and drunk too much alcohol.’ 

Lawyers, journalists and members of the public have heard lurid details of the couple’s tempestuous relationship, including prodigious drinking and drug consumption, furious arguments, hurled objects and a deposit of excrement left in a bed – whether by dog or human is disputed.

The Sun’s defence relies on 14 allegations made by Heard of violence by Depp between 2013 and 2016, in settings including his private island in the Bahamas, a rented house in Australia – where Depp’s finger was severed in contested circumstances – and the couple’s downtown Los Angeles penthouse, which was trashed during the couple’s altercations.

Depp denies all the allegations and claims Heard was the aggressor during their volatile relationship, which he has likened to ‘a crime scene waiting to happen.’ Several current or former employees gave evidence backing his version of events, and former romantic partners Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder gave witness statements saying he had never been violent to them.

During four days in the witness box last week, Heard stood by her allegations, claiming Depp flew into jealous rages and became a ‘monster’ under the influence of alcohol and drugs. She accused him of slapping and hitting her and throwing bottles at her ‘like grenades,’ and claimed that she often feared for her life during their relationship.

Heard’s evidence was backed by witnesses including her sister Whitney Henriquez, who said she had seen Depp hit Heard ‘multiple times’ during a fracas at the couple’s Los Angeles apartment in March 2015.

On Friday, Depp’s lawyers played a video, filmed years before Heard and Depp met, that showed a friend of Henriquez saying ‘I can’t believe Amber beat your ass.’ Depp’s lawyers said that was evidence of Heard’s violence, but her sister said they had only had a verbal altercation.

The case is due to end Tuesday, but judge Andrew Nicol is not expected to deliver his ruling for several weeks.  

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