Actress Amber Heard punched her ex-husband and Hollywood star Johnny Depp during one of their heated arguments, striking him to protect her sister, London’s High Court was told on Thursday (July 16).
Depp, 57, issuing the publisher of Britain’s Sun newspaper for libel over an article which labeled him a “wife-beater” and says it was he who suffered domestic violence at the hands of Heard during their volatile relationship.
The paper argues its story is true and the court has been told Heard, 34, accuses her ex-husband of attacking her on at least 14 occasions between 2013 and 2016 when enraged after drinking or taking drugs to excess.
Giving evidence to the court, Depp’s bodyguard Sean Bett said there were a number of times when Heard had left visible injuries on his employer.
He said one of these had taken place on April 21, 2016, after a party for Heard’s birthday. The court has been told previously that she alleges Depp had attacked her when she became upset because he had turned up late to the party.
He denies this and says she assaulted him, throwing a “haymaker” punch during the row.
Bett said he had driven Depp to another of his homes after the argument and he had taken a photo of the actor’s face after he related that Heard had punched him.
However, the court heard there was a dispute over a photo submitted as part of Bett’s evidence and that the picture included with his witness statement was in fact taken after another incident on March 23, 2015.
The Sun’s lawyer Sasha Wass told the court that that incident, another of the occasions when Depp is accused of assaulting his ex-wife, was one where Heard “admits she punched Mr Depp in defence of her younger sister” and the only occasion when she did so.
Bett said the photo he said he took the following year looked very similar, but accepted he could not find the original.
The bodyguard was also asked about an incident in May 2016 when Heard accuses Depp of hurling a mobile phone at her which struck her face, leaving a bruise on her cheek.
Bett said when he arrived at the scene, he agreed that Heard had shouted words to the effect of “if he hits me one more time I’m going to call the cops”.
But he said there was no visible injury to her face, saying he had been looking at her constantly because “she was shouting at the top of her lungs”.
He denied he was lying for his boss, saying Heard would have tantrums and become angry at Depp for no apparent reason and that she behaved badly when she had been drinking.
Earlier the court was told by Depp’s lawyer David Sherborne that two former partners of Depp, Vanessa Paradis with whom he had two children and actress Winona Ryder, would no longer give evidence because their testimony he had never been violent towards them was no longer needed as it was not challenged.
On Wednesday, the court heard from Heard’s former assistant Kate James who said Heard had “stolen” details of her own experience of being violently sexually assaulted and the actress had used it for her own benefit.
She also said Heard, for whom she worked from 2012 to 2015, drank vast quantities of red wine during that time, saying she would receive incoherent and abusive text messages from her employer between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.
Depp has already given evidence over five days and Heard is expected to appear in the witness box next week.
(Production: Lisa Giles-Keddie)