Decision in Johnny Depp’s ‘wife-beater’ case to be announced Monday
A ruling in Johnny Depp’s sensational libel case will be announced early Monday in London.
High-court Justice Andrew Nicol has said he will file his judgment at 10 a.m. London time — or 5 a.m. in New York — after spending more than three months deliberating over the sordid and salacious testimony from Depp, actress ex Amber Heard and a host of their pals and others during a three-week trial in July.
Depp, the 57-year-old star of such flicks as “Pirates of the Caribbean,” is suing the publisher of Britain’s The Sun newspaper and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, over an April 2018 headline that called him a “wife beater.”
Depp took the stand at trial to vehemently deny ever beating then-wife Heard — instead claiming the “Aquaman” actress was the violent one and painting her as a compulsive liar who even faked photos of black eyes as part of a “choreographed hoax” to destroy him.
He told the court at one point that the actress “came into my life to take from me anything worth taking and then destroy what remained of it.”
The Sun’s side fired back with graphic testimony from Heard, 34, who detailed scores of times how the “monster” allegedly came out in Depp and he battered and threatened to kill her during their toxic five-year relationship.
She also painted him as a “hopeless” addict — with his regular days-long binges on drink and drugs leaving him too trashed to recall the true depths of his domestic violence.
Depp lost a fingertip during what Heard called a “three-day ordeal of assaults” in a rented house in Australia — ending with the actor allegedly writing her name in pee on the floor and scrawling angry messages on mirrors using the bloody stump of his digit.
That was sparked in part by jealousy over his wife’s co-star Billy Bob Thornton — one of a series of A-listers she was accused of sleeping with, including actors Leonardo DiCaprio and James Franco and Tesla mogul Elon Musk.
Just when it seemed impossible for the testimony to get any more sordid, the court heard that Depp finally dumped Heard after she or a pal defecated in his bed out of vengeance — with photos of the offending feces included as evidence.
Despite being dubbed the biggest English libel case of the 21st century, Depp is likely to be awarded only a modest sum if the decision goes his way, with his lawyer, David Sherborne, having told the court that it was “not a case about money” but “vindication.”
No matter the outcome, legal experts predict the losing side will appeal — and most of the evidence will soon get rehashed in a $50 million defamation lawsuit Depp has filed against his ex in the US.
Either way, both Depp and Heard “are going to lose,” said Mark Stephens, a media lawyer at the law firm Howard Kennedy, to The Associated Press.
“The reputations of both Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are tarnished irrevocably,” Stephens said. And “I think that it’s going to persist, because whoever wins in this case, the way in which this case was presented, the issues that came up, particularly around gendered presentation of the case, I think that’s going to be studied for years to come.”
Whichever side wins, the verdict can be appealed all the way to the UK Supreme Court, experts said.
Meanwhile, Depp is suing Heard for $50 million in Virginia over a Washington Post op-ed she penned about her experience as a victim of domestic violence. While he wasn’t named in the piece, he insists it was strongly inferred he was the perpetrator.
Stephens has told The Post that the British case could be a harbinger of things to come for the Virginia court fight.
If Depp loses in London, “he’s almost certain to lose that American case” next year, Stephens told The Post.
“So this is in some ways a dress rehearsal for the second case.”
Depp and Heard met on the set of 2011 comedy “The Rum Diary” and married in Los Angeles in 2015.
They separated the following year and divorced in 2017 after Heard already made accusations of domestic violence.
With Post wires
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