LONDON—Johnny Depp was not violent toward former wife Amber Heard and she was the one who would attack him, a London court heard on Tuesday, as the Hollywood actor’s libel trial against a British tabloid neared its end.
“Pirates of the Caribbean” star Depp is suing News Group Newspapers, publishers of The Sun, and one of its journalists, Dan Wootton, over a 2018 article that called him a “wife beater.”
Depp, 57, and his former wife Heard, 34, both gave evidence at the trial. Depp said he was never violent toward Heard or any other woman and that she was the one who attacked him.
Heard described multiple incidents when she said Depp assaulted her, and on Monday her lawyer said that the allegation of wife-beating was true and that Depp was a “hopeless addict.”
In a closing speech, Depp’s lawyer David Sherborne said that, while Depp had been open about his use of drugs and alcohol, Heard had played down her own consumption of them as well as her issues with anger and jealousy.
“She is the abuser, not Mr Depp. He is no wife beater,” Sherborne told the court, adding her “lack of credibility” had been proven in the evidence she had given.
He said Heard was a “wholly unreliable witness and, frankly, compulsive liar” who had tailored her story to meet the evidence produced against her.
‘Period, Full Stop, Nada’
A tape recording of Heard and Depp was played to the court where Depp tells Heard she is lying when she says she didn’t punch him, which Sherborne said demonstrated Heard’s “propensity to violence.”
“Don’t tell me what it feels like to be punched,” Depp said in the recording, before Heard retorts, “I hit you like this. But I did not punch you.”
Sherborne said that the admission that Heard hit Depp would have caused “consternation” if roles were reversed.
In his testimony, Depp said he modeled himself as a “Southern gentleman” who would never strike a woman.
“He has never hit a woman in his entire life. Period, full stop, nada,” Sherborne said.
“It is not just a southern gentleman thing. It is also because he was subject to domestic abuse by his mother.”
He said that texts from Depp highlighted by Heard’s lawyer for their violent and misogynistic language had been chosen selectively, and they should not be taken as testimony.
“The exaggerated texts … should not be taken literally,” Sherborne said.
“He may use poetic license, he may use metaphor, but he never ever says that he hit Miss Heard.”
He added that Depp had been candid about his drug and alcohol intake, but denied that those things unleashed the “monster” in Depp.
Instead, Sherborne quoted messages between Heard and Depp where the “monster” referred to Depp when he was keeping away from Heard.
“I don’t know any version of that myth which involves the monster running away from the fight,” Sherborne said.
“You can understand why Mr Depp wanted to just run away. And when he does, he gets criticized for that as well. That’s the monster.”
The case is expected to end on Tuesday, but a ruling is not expected immediately.
By Alistair Smout