Johnny Depp has admitted to “accidentally” headbutting ex-wife Amber Heard during a fight between the pair at their shared penthouse in Los Angeles in 2015.
Depp is suing the Sun’s publisher News Group Newspapers (NGN) and the Sun’s executive editor Dan Wootton over an article from April 2018 that referred to Depp as a “wifebeater”, and which claimed there was “overwhelming evidence” that he attacked his wife at the time.
Depp strongly denies the allegations.
Over the past few days, Depp has repeatedly denied ever harming the 34-year-old actress. However, he today admitted to headbutting Heard in an attempt to “control the violence” and “stop her flailing and punching me” during an altercation.
Sasha Wass QC, representing NGN, asked the Hollywood actor: “Do you agree that your admission that people in this court will have heard for the first time that there was a headbutt is very important?”
Depp replied: “Yes, it is important.”
On the third day of the libel case the court heard a witness statement from Heard alleging she had been “headbutted” by her then-husband in one of their five penthouses in the Eastern Columbia building in LA in December 2015.
Wass told Depp: “You headbutted Ms Heard using the top of your head to hit her between the eyes and Ms Heard fell backwards and started to bleed straight away.”
Depp at first replied “no ma’am”, and claimed that Heard had been attacking him in the office of their apartment.
Wass then described photographs of Heard following the altercation, which she claimed showed the actress with “the beginning of two black eyes” and “injuries around her nose”. The barrister also read out Heard’s medical notes following the scuffle, in which the Pineapple Express actress had told a registered nurse that she had had a “verbal disagreement“ with the actor, and said that “her husband JD used his forehead to hit her head”.
Wass asked the Hollywood actor: “Are you able to explain the account that Ms Heard gave to a nurse on the day, straight after she says you assaulted her?”
Depp replied: “This injury which she suffered is not consistent with the photograph she has given to the court… She’s swinging quite wildly so the only thing I could do in that situation is to try and run or to try and get my arms around her to stop her from getting her arms around me.”
“When I did [turn] it seems there was a collision. That is the only potential injury… There was no intentional headbutt. The collision was head-to-head.”
Depp was quizzed by the defence on why he had not mentioned any unintentional injuries Heard had incurred in his witness statement describing the alleged attack.
“In your witness statement you said: ‘In fact Ms Heard violently attacked me’. There is no mention that you accidentally headbutted her”, said Wass.
The Hollywood actor said: “Yes, there was no intentional headbutt. My attorneys wrote the witness statement. I didn’t write these, I didn’t put them together, my attorneys wrote them… I can’t account for what was in or wasn’t in the witness statement.”
Justice Nicol, the judge for the libel case, then intercepted to remind Depp that he had signed the witness statement as his own word.
Depp said: “I don’t think I said anything untrue but if you’re saying I left out the explanation of the collision, or the headbutt if you will, I can only say that that has always been a part of my statement”.
“Had I read the entire statement after the lawyers had drafted it, I would have found that missing piece. I did not read all of these things, it was altogether too much information and I had trusted that my attorneys had [got] my statement and put it on the record.”
Wass then asked the Pirates of the Caribbean actor if he accepted that he caused the injuries in the photographs Heard had submitted as evidence to the court. Depp admitted that the injuries were “consistent with headbutting”, but denied that he had caused the injuries in the photographs.
Depp claimed photographs of their upturned apartment were orchestrated by Heard as part of plans by the actress to build “a wonderful dossier, an insurance policy for when we did break up”.
The court was played an audio recording in which the couple discussed the alleged headbutting incident, after which Wass asked Depp when he had learned about the recording.
“Very recently,” Depp replied.
Wass told the Edward Scissorhands actor: “And very recently I suggest you’ve changed the account to deal with this recording.”
Depp and Heard met on the set of Hollywood film The Rum Diary in 2009, and were married in Los Angeles in 2015. Heard obtained a restraining order against the actor shortly after their split in 2016. She donated the $7m settlement to a women’s domestic abuse charity and a child support charity.
Depp’s lawyers are set to argue that the Sun’s allegations are not true and amount to “serious harm” as defined in the Defamation Act 2013. They are expected to claim that the accusations have caused significant reputational damage and have lost him lucrative film roles.
The court heard a transcript from a separate argument on Monday, in which Depp accused Heard of punching him “in the face, with a closed fist”.
The explosive revelations came after the court heard details of the couple’s tempestuous relationship during arguments in Australia in 2015, a year before the pair split.
The court was shown pictures of a graffitied mirror in the pair’s apartment, on which Depp had allegedly scrawled “I love u” in blood.
When Depp “ran out of blood” he then started to use paint to deface a lampshade and bedroom walls, before urinating outside and drawing a “d**k” on a picture of a woman, resulting in $150,000 worth of damage, the court was told.
Depp claims the top of his finger was cut off after Heard threw a vodka bottle at her then-husband, “which severed the tip of my finger and crushed the bone”. Heard denies the claims.
Depp claimed the incident was when he began “what I would feel as some species of nervous breakdown.” The 57-year-old star said the confrontation was when he realised the relationship was over, adding: “I didn’t want to live at that time.”
Depp told the court that he said to his ex-wife on numerous occasions that they were “a crime scene waiting to happen” following frequent physical confrontations.
The third day of the three-week trial also heard how the Zombieland actress had acted as Depp’s nurse during a drugs and alcohol detox while they were on holiday on his private island in the Bahamas.
In his witness statement, Depp claimed that he was left sobbing “like a child” when Heard “withheld medicine” from him during the stint abroad.
“It was one of the cruellest things that she has ever done”, he said, adding: “My body clock was needing medication to stop the onslaught… I was not in good shape.”
NGN’s defence relies heavily on the claim that Depp had an “anger problem” that was inflamed by drugs and alcohol abuse.
Medical notes were later read out from the couple’s private doctor Dr David Kipper, who claimed Depp “romanticised the drug culture”.
“He has no understanding of delayed gratification and is quite childlike in his reaction when he doesn’t get immediate satisfaction,” Kipper said.
The court heard from the defence that Depp felt threatened by Heard’s romantic scenes with other actors, in particular James Franco, whom Heard is alleged to have had an affair with during her relationship with Depp.
Depp was treated for anxiety after Heard starred in the film Adderall Diaries with Franco, whom Depp described in court yesterday as “rapey”.
Depp was said to have been hospitalised after a drugs binge related to Heard’s alleged involvement with Franco during filming. Depp’s doctor at the time, Connell Cowan, wrote in the star’s medical notes that Depp was “very threatened by [her] career, particularly any kind of romantic scenes she has to do”.
The actor’s case against NGN and the Sun’s executive editor Dan Wootton follows the publication of an article on the Sun’s website in April 2018 that urged author JK Rowling to scrap Depp from the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them franchise over allegations of domestic assault.
Depp has argued that article’s headline, “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”, is defamatory.
NGN is defending the article as true, and has claimed Depp was “controlling and verbally and physically abusive towards Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs” during their seven-year relationship.
The trial continues.