Previously unseen reality TV footage of Amber Heard’s sister after she was allegedly attacked by the actress has been shown to the High Court after being sent in anonymously.
The clip was dramatically played on Friday afternoon, with Depp‘s barrister David Sherborne telling the court it was sent by a “confidential source” on Thursday night – after Whitney Henriquez gave evidence to say her sister had never been violent towards her.
Ms Henriquez told the court the footage was for a “really bad reality TV show” and said they were discussing a verbal argument, not a physical one.
In the short video, which Mr Sherborne said was recorded in 2006 or 2007, Ms Henriquez is with some other women by a pool. She says she “got into an altercation”, but does not want to discuss it further.
Key moments from day 14 of Johnny Depp’s libel case against NGN:
- Heard’s sister finished giving evidence and told the court she and Amber “grew up in a violent household… And were taught to stay”
- She denies giving false evidence to the court and says Heard “was a victim of domestic violence and that’s the only reason. I’m here to do the right thing”
- Acting coach Kristina Sexton said Heard told her Depp had “slapped and tried to strangle her” – and had previously suspected there was domestic abuse occurring
- Heard’s friend Raquel Pennington said in her statement that she feared “Johnny might accidentally kill her” while drunk
- She denied Heard used make-up to fake injuries, and said it was “completely false” they had faked damage to the apartments
- Another friend of Heard’s, author and activist iO Tillett Wright, described the phone call in which it was alleged he heard Depp hurl a phone in Heard’s face
- He also described Heard as “faecal phobic” and said there is no way she would have left excrement in the couple’s marital bed, as has been alleged
In the dramatic new video evidence shown to the court, a woman, who at one point appears to be examining Ms Henriquez’s face, says: “I can’t believe Amber beat your ass. I know you could beat her ass,” and then later on: “Whitney truth or dare? Did you really start the fight with your sister? Or did she start it? For real, for real, for real.”
When Ms Henriquez then says: “We’re not going to talk about that”, the woman replies: “She really did whoop your butt.”
Sasha Wass, NGN’s lawyer, said the video was “light-hearted” and said it showed “no evidence of any injuries”.
Depp’s team say the new video “demonstrates Ms Whitney (Henriquez) was lying yesterday”.
On Thursday, she denied that Heard had ever hit her, or that she was “frightened” of her sister.
Ms Henriquez also gave evidence saying she saw Depp punch Heard “really hard in the head… multiple times” in Los Angeles in March 2015, in the so-called “stairs incident”.
She admitted that her sister also punched the actor on that occasion, but said she only did so “in my defence” because she believed he was going to push her down the stairs.
Speaking about the new video, Mr Sherborne told the court: “After [Ms Henriquez] gave evidence yesterday, one of our team was contacted by an individual, on the basis of being kept confidential.”
He added: “We were contacted to explain that Ms Amber Heard had a history of violence and attacking people and this video, which was attached, of her sister Whitney was taken shortly after Amber Heard had attacked her and Ms Whitney [Henriquez] was filmed with people commenting on the bruises on her face and body.”
Mr Sherborne reminded the judge in the case, Mr Justice Nicol, of Ms Henriquez’s evidence from the previous day, and that she had said the “stairs incident” was a “one-off”.
Ms Henriquez’s evidence about the incident in March 2015 is “the only occasion on which any other human being is supposed to have witnessed” Depp being violent towards Heard, the barrister continued.
“The reliability of Ms Whitney [Henriquez] is critical,” Mr Sherborne said.
Questioned about the new footage, Ms Henriquez denied there was a “physical fight”. She said the show’s producers were trying to make a storyline better.
“They were trying to make a narrative that wasn’t there,” she said. “Trying to make a really, really boring conversation more interesting.”
Ms Henriquez told the court she did not want to discuss a dispute with her sister on TV.
“I wanted to shut the conversation down,” she said. “I had no interest in talking about that on camera.”
Eleanor Laws, Depp’s lawyer, also questioned Ms Henriquez on what she said was a visible mark on her chest in the footage, which Heard’s sister said was not true, arguing that the lawyer was “looking for injuries that are not there”.
Also on Friday, the court heard evidence from Heard’s acting coach of ten years, Kristina Sexton, who said she had never seen Depp “hit, kick, or throw anything” at Heard.
She said Heard had told her that Depp had “slapped and tried to strangle her” in 2016, but that she had previously suspected domestic abuse was going on.
She said on one occasion when Heard was filming the movie Blonde, she saw she was “wearing a thick layer of foundation”, which aroused her suspicions, as she normally “didn’t really wear make up in the daytime”.
Referring to Depp and Heard’s wedding, she said: “I feel that she [Heard] wasn’t in a great mental state in the week I saw her before she got married.”
Heard’s former best friend, Raquel Pennington, told the court she “became really scared for Amber’s life” after the Australia incident, which is alleged to have taken place in March 2015.
In her statement, she said she was afraid “Johnny might accidentally kill her while he was intoxicated or delusional like he was in Australia”.
She described graphic injuries she had seen on Amber’s arms after the trip, including “lacerations, deep scratches or cuts, from the length of her wrist to her elbow” and smaller cuts on the bottom of both her feet.
She also described seeing Heard’s injuries after an alleged incident in December 2015 – the day before the actress filmed an appearance on James Corden’s The Late Late Show.
Ms Pennington said: “The one that stands out the most in my memory is the injury to the back of her head, the scalp, that was bloody where her hair had been ripped out.
“Additionally, she had a very swollen nose at that point, it was quite tender, and maybe another… laceration or scrape (at the) front of her scalp as well, and like an injury to her lip.”
She denied that she and Heard had damaged one of Depp’s penthouse apartments after attending police officers had left the building – and taken photos – in order to bolster Heard’s application for a domestic violence restraining order shortly before she applied for a divorce in 2016.
Last to give evidence was Heard’s friend iO Tillett Wright.
He described an incident in May 2016, when he says he heard Depp and Heard arguing when he was on the phone to Heard, and then the phone being dropped, and “what sounded like a cry or a yelp”.
He says he heard Heard “say something like you just threw the phone at my face” – and the next thing he heard was Depp saying “Oh, you think I hit you, you think I hit you. What if I peel your hair back?”.
He says he then heard Heard scream, and “everything seemed to get further away from the phone”. He said he heard her scream “call 911”, which he then did.
He also told the court: “A number of people who worked in the entertainment industry were afraid of speaking up and saying what they had seen as they feared they would be blacklisted.”
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Depp is suing NGN, the publishers of The Sun newspaper, over the publication of an article in April 2018 which ran with the headline: “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”
NGN is defending the article as true and is relying on 14 allegations of violence made by Heard, their witness, in its defence.
The case, the biggest English libel trial of the 21st century, is due to finish next week with closing submissions from both sides’ legal teams on Monday and Tuesday, and a ruling expected at a later date.
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